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'Bewus-whatever' helps to topple Avon boy at national spelling bee


WASHINGTON — A written spelling test that Mike Fumic described as “brutal” proved to be the downfall for his son, Jake, in Wednesday’s preliminary round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee .
“He was pretty disappointed; he took it pretty hard,” Mike Fumic said of his 13-year-old son, a student at Avon Middle School. “Jake felt he could go farther.”
While Jake correctly spelled his word — genetic — in the second round, he didn’t score high enough on the first-round portion of the bee — the written exam — to move on to the third round of competition.
The written exam had 25 words, with each word having five possible spellings, Mike Fumic said.
Words such as solmizate, halobiont, syssarcosis, noesis, scytale, ylem and Bewusstseinslage quickly narrowed the field of 286 spellers to 107.
“I studied German for four years and sang in a German choir and I never heard of Bewus-whatever,” Mike Fumic laughed. “It’s extremely competitive,” Fumic said.
Last night, bee contestants gathered in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel to quiz each other, taking words from past bees, he said.
Jake may be disappointed in himself, but his parents couldn’t be more proud, Mike said.
“Of course, we were all pulling for him, but just getting to this level is an accomplishment in itself,” he said. Jake, his parents Mike and Debbie, and sister, Grace, will spend the remainder of the week in Washington, taking in the sights and the rest of the spelling bee.
Contact Bette Pearce at 329-7148 or

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