A 12-year-old spelling bee contestant is getting a second shot at a county crown after contest administrators admitted to making a big mistake.
KMPH reports that Sierra Shoemaker was competing in her school district's spelling bee in Fresno County, California. She was given the word "braille" and spelled it correctly. However, the judge said otherwise. He told Sierra that "braille" contained only one "l."
As if! In an interview with KMPH, Shoemaker said she knew the word-master was wrong. "I didn't want to say anything, because, you know, the word-master tells you you have a word wrong, you don't really argue with him. I was shocked. I was just kind of like, 'What?'"
Shoemaker ending up taking second place. Impressive, but not good enough to make it to the next round in the Fresno County Spelling Bee. Phone calls were made, petitions filed, and the story has a happy ending. Officials from Sierra's school district spoke with organizers of the county bee, who agreed to allow the district to send three spellers to the county contest, instead of two. Sierra's name will be among them.
This is hardly the first time a whiz kid has spelled a word correctly only to be rebuffed by an ill-informed judge. Perhaps most famously, Dan Quayle, then the vice president, told a young boy that he'd spelled potato wrong. The word, Quayle insisted, ended with an "e." The boy was kind enough to humor the veep.