'14 Spelling Bee champ to defend her title March 7

  • Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    Gia Bautista & Erin Welch - 2014 regional spelling bee finalists

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD -- (March 3, 2015) - The champion and runner-up from the 2014 Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee are among 44 Lower Shore contestants set to compete Saturday in the 2015 edition of the competition at UMES.

    Gia Bautista, an eighth-grader from Wicomico Middle School, and sixth-grader Erin Welch of St. Francis de Sales Catholic School both qualified for their third regional bee where a trip to the national spelling competition will be on the line.

    Saturday's event, which is free to the public, begins at 10 a.m. in the Ella Fitzgerald Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

    In addition to Welch and Bautista, other competitors who again qualified to represent their schools are Akrem Abdelwahab of Bennett Middle School, Liyah Hill of Pinehurst Elementary School, Gracious Mudoh of Princess Anne Elementary School and North Salisbury Elementary's Ava Bautista, Gia's younger sister.

    The UMES competition is identical to the televised event staged by the Scripps National Spelling Bee organization, which has designated UMES as an official regional sponsor.

    The Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee champion receives an all-expense paid trip to Washington representing Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties at the national competition in late May.

    Gia and Erin dueled head-to-head over 14 rounds a year ago before Erin stumbled on spelling graupel, granular snow pellets also known as soft hail. Gia then spelled metamorphosis correctly to win the keepsake medallion awarded to the event's champ. 

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    Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355. 

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