With hundreds of guests in attendance and broadcast cameras recording for millions of viewers across the country, 14-year-old student Aaron Lim represented Orange County in National Harbor, Maryland as he competed in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.
The eighth-grader from El Rancho Charter School in Anaheim spelled the words “cephalopod,” “seraphic” and “muckraker” perfectly before getting eliminated in the fourth round with the word “ovination,” mistakenly adding an extra “a” in the word.
Ovination is the introduction of a sheep-pox virus locally into the body, as formerly practiced to induce immunity or reduce the severity of the disease.
“The students and staff at El Rancho Charter are so incredibly proud of Aaron’s hard work and determination in preparation for this competition,” said El Rancho Principal Michele Walker. “He is an amazing student and individual. His focus and grit has allowed him these tremendous opportunities.”
Lim tied for 74th place. In total, there were 231 elementary and middle-school students competing in the 95th annual national event. The spellers represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. Department of Defense Schools in Europe. Finalists will face off in the two-day event that culminates in the finals on Thursday.
Aaron qualified for the national competition by winning the Orange County Spelling Bee, which was held at the Orange County Department of Education in partnership with the Orange County Register, on March 4. His winning word was “gallivat,” which refers to an East Indian ship propelled by sails and oars that’s often armed and used by pirates.
Leading up the 18 high-stakes rounds at the regional bee, Aaron shared that he had been preparing for the competition for three years and had dedicated more than a thousand hours to memorizing words.