When 13-year-old Westin Martin correctly spelled “weltschmerz” on Tuesday, he passed the first round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The Abraham Lincoln Middle School eighth grader continued advancing until he misspelled “Molasse” in the sixth round, finishing in a tie for 22nd place with 34 other semifinalists.
Martin is only the second Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) student to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and he is the first to make it past the preliminaries, according to Jackie Johnson, ACPS public information officer.
“Congratulations to Westin Martin from Lincoln Middle School!” ACPS tweeted. “By making it to the semifinals of the @ScrippsBee, he made it farther than any ACPS student ever has! Although he won’t be moving on, he’s made us proud!”
In the first five rounds, Martin successfully spelled “steerage” and “ethnarch,” and identified the meanings of “litmus” and “crevasse.”
This year marked a sudden start to Martin’s spelling success. Though he had never won class or school spelling bees in previous years, he won the Alachua County Spelling Bee in February, then claimed first place in the regional First Coast Spelling Bee with the word “desertification.”
That success earned Martin a trip to Scripps' national competition.
Over 230 spellers traveled from across the United States, its territories, and three other countries to participate in the 95th Scripps National Spelling Bee, according to the bee’s website.