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7th grader is Lower Shore's top speller for 2013

  • Saturday, March 9, 2013

    Khaled Mohamed / photo by Joey GardnerPRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (March 9, 2013) - Number two was number one at the inaugural Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee today.

    Khaled Mohamed, a seventh-grader at Bennett Middle School in Salisbury, was the winner of the interscholastic spelling competition sponsored by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

    Khaled was assigned "2" in the line-up of 49 elementary and middle school students from Somerset and Wicomico counties who competed in the 90-minute event on the UMES campus.

    He spelled 33 words correctly.

    The runner-up was Grace Drehmer, a seventh-grader from Mardela Middle and High School.

    They dueled head-to-head for 20 minutes, leaving many in the audience shaking their heads at the spelling prowess on display at the Ella Fitzgerald Center for the Performing Arts. When Grace stumbled on "patel," it opened the door for Khaled to be named champion. His winning word was "eulogy."

    As the lower Eastern Shore's top speller, Khaled, 13, will represent the region at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in late May.

    "I'm pumped up about going to the national spelling bee," Khaled said. "I'm really excited."

    In addition to the trip to Washington, Khaled also received a commemorative champion's medallion, a Merriam-Webster (3rd edition) Unabridged Dictionary and a year's subscription to the online edition of Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Khaled Mohamed and Grace Drehmer by Joey GardnerKhaled said his stepmother helped him practice as many as four hours a day over the past several weeks as the event drew near.

    When pronouncer Donna Long asked Khaled to spell what was the championship word, he said he was "prepared for it. I just had to calm down and make sure I spelled it right."

    Khaled credits his fifth-grade teacher, Debra Wilkins at North Salisbury Elementary School, with sparking his interest in being a good speller.

    He and his family planned to celebrate by dining out at a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi. His favorite is a dish called "Rockstar," shrimp tempura, mozzarella cheese, spicy mayonnaise and eel sauce.

    For one day, at least, Khaled was a rock star speller, too