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2nd time proves the charm for spelling champ

  • Saturday, March 1, 2014

    Gia Bautista - 2014 MES Regional Spelling Bee championPRINCESS ANNE, MD- (March 1, 2014) - Metamorphosis proved serendipitous for Gia Bautista, winner of today's 2nd annual Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee.

    The 12-year-old seventh grader from Wicomico Middle School nailed the correct spelling of the multi-syllabic noun in the 27th round to earn the title of best speller on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore.

    To those watching in the audience, Gia projected an air of composure.

    After the event, she confessed to being "very nervous. I thought there were a couple of rounds where I would be eliminated."

    She chose to return to the same lucky chair she was assigned for the competition instead of accepting an invitation to move closer to center stage as other spellers were eliminated.

    Gia acknowledged struggling with one word - croquette. She initially thought it might be the word for the lawn game, but asked pronouncer Marilyn Buerkle to provide a definition and what the language of origin was for the foodstuff.

    By winning the regional event, Gia qualified to participate this May in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, an event that a year ago attracted 281 top spellers from across the United States and several foreign countries.

    Gia estimated she spent several hours a day reviewing word lists since qualifying as a representative from Wicomico Middle School.

    "Over the last two weeks, I have been studying vigorously," she said.

    The 2014 Maryland Eastern Shore bee was Gia's second appearance in the regional event, as it was for runner-up Erin Welch, a fifth-grader from St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Salisbury.

    Erin, 10, and Gia dueled head-to-head over 14 rounds before Erin stumbled on graupel, granular snow pellets also known as soft hail.  

    Erin Welch ~ 2014 spelling bee runner-upGia then spelled her next word - vigilante - correctly. As the rules dictate, she was given a second, "championship" word.

    She neither hesitated nor asked questions for hints when Buerkle delivered the challenge.

    When Gia realized she spelled 'metamorphosis' correctly, she smiled and took in the applause as the audience rose to acknowledge her accomplishment.

    So did younger sister, Ava, who also competed as a representative from North Salisbury Elementary School. Ava ran on stage and gave her big sister a heartfelt hug, a spontaneous moment that energized spectators.

    Ava, 10, described her older sibling's win as "awesome."

    The 2014 Maryland Eastern Shore Bee featured 48 competitors representing 27 public and private schools in Dorchester, Somerset and Wicomico counties.

    UMES is the sponsor-host of the event held at the Ella Fitzgerald Center for the Performing Arts.

    Gia was presented with a champion's medallion; a Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged), a year's subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica online and a pledge for a week's stay in Washington, D.C for