Nevada's top speller eliminated in written test

It wasn't the spelling bee that submarined Nevada's champion speller Bonnie Slocum at the national competition.

It was the written test.

Bonnie spelled the word "ormolu" correctly in the second round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., before a ballroom full of people and television cameras.

"I never really noticed the rest of it," the 14-year-old Gardnerville girl said. "When you go up to the mic and hear your word, it's just you and the pronouncer whether there are three people or a ballroom filled with hundreds of people and being followed around by television cameras."

The first round written test ended up eliminating Bonnie and many other spellers from the competition. Only 97 of the 274 children who began the contest made it to the third round, many despite spelling their word correctly.

"I just do what I have to do," she said.

Unlike many of the spellers, Bonnie said she never asks clarifying questions before spelling her word.

"For me, when I hear the word, I search for what that word is," she said. "Some of the contestants were asking trillions of questions. When I hear my word, I know."

For the record, ormolu is golden or gilded brass or bronze used for decorative purposes.

She went to Washington with her mother, Stephanie Slocum Freer, and her step-father Jack Freer.

The Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School student said there were a lot of events for the spellers and some free time to wander around the nation's capital.

"They had a board game party and a picnic and a party for us," she said. "There were tons of people and they're all there for the same purpose. I met some cool people from New Zealand and a lot of people from Canada. It's the national spelling bee, but there are people from all sorts of places. It's weird."

Bonnie was No. 145, just two people away from No. 147, the national champion Katherine Close, but she was so focused she said she never really noticed.

Unlike Close who had five tries at the national title before winning it, this was Bonnie's last shot at the title. Next year she will go on to ninth grade and high school level classes.

"I'm taking all the advanced classes I can next year," said the girl who said she plans to be a writer some day.

Her advice for future spellers?

"Study as much as you can," she said. "It's the only way you can get very good."

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Kids Kind of Place's Nan Ferlisi brought in a photo of her dad Bud Covert with the children at Kids Kind of Place for Father's Day.

Bud does wooden cutouts for the children that they paint and decorate at the pre-school's craft project.

"He's been cutting out all kinds of projects for the preschool and day care since 1982," said.

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Sonnie Imes is back in Genoa from her Mediterranean cruise but her favorite time was on shore in France.

She had purchased calamari (I spell it bait) from a grocery store and was looking forward to going to a store in Cagne to purchase it from the source.

"It is the best calamari which is packed in an olive oil vinnegarette," she said. "My mouth waters just thinking about in. We were talking about it all the way from Genoa (not Italy)."

When she arrived at the store though, the clerk's told her they were out. And since they were French store clerks, Sonnie's protestations fell on shrugged shoulders.

Sonnie knows how to make the best of a bad situation so the party purchased a baguette, paté, pickled vegetables and assorted seafood and had lunch on a park bench.

"It was the best meal we had the whole time," she said.

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We said good-bye to Belinda Grant on Tuesday along with a collection of well-wishers.

Apparently, it appeared as though I was saying that Belinda's uncle was Jay Aldrich in last week's column. To set the record straight, Jay Aldrich is my wife's uncle.

n Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at or 782-5121, ext. 215.


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