Spellers prepare for ultimate test in bee

7:21 AM, May 31, 2012   |    comments
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OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Gokul Venkatachalam of Ballwin is among the fifty semifinalists who are preparing to take the stage at the National Spelling Bee.

Thursday's semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN2, as will the finals Thursday evening.

Unlike in the preliminary rounds, spellers who get words wrong will hear the dreaded bell that signals it's time to leave the stage.

Among the favorites is 10-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olanthe, Kan., whose sister, Kavya, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee three years ago. Vanya was the only speller to earn a perfect score in the preliminary rounds.

Jordan Hoffman of Kansas City and three spellers from Illinois remain in the competition as well.

Six-year-old Lori Anne Madison, the youngest speller in the history of the event, did not make the semifinals.

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