Virtual Orange County Spelling Bee ends in a T-I-E; classmates named co-champions

What first ended in a T-I-E has culminated in V-I-C-T-O-R-Y for two local students. And, for the first time in OC Spelling Bee history, the top two finalists of the Orange County Spelling Bee are classmates, in the same grade level, from the same school.

OC Spelling Bee
Eighth-graders Baominh Le and Sophia Lin of the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach are named co-champions of the 2021 Orange County Spelling Bee.

Eighth-graders Baominh Le and Sophia Lin of the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach emerged at the top of the pack on Saturday, March 6 when an online test replaced the traditional in-person county spelling bee.

Originally scheduled to participate Tuesday evening in a final tie-breaking round, the two top-scoring spellers were notified by the Orange County Register and the Orange County Department of Education that both will advance to the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Based on their outstanding performance on the county’s 50-question online test, the spellers were named co-champions, and both will compete against the best of the best in the national finals this summer.

In a pre-pandemic world, top spellers from across the county would normally compete in OCDE’s Board Room, where students would be challenged to audibly reconstruct a variety of high-level words letter by letter. However, this year’s 14 finalists completed an online spelling test from their homes.

After cancelling the 2020 national bee, the Scripps National Spelling Bee announced last week that all preliminary rounds will take place virtually. The top 10 to 12 spellers will be invited to participate in-person at the final round of the National Spelling Bee in Florida in early June.

If the Orange County co-champions are invited to the final round, the travel costs for each student and their chaperones would be covered by the Orange County Register and the Scripps National Spelling Bee.