Use of 'ogival' keeps Divya Amirtharaj from semifinal round in Washington, D.C.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSOTT - Beaverton's student Divya Amirtharaj made it to the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Divya Amirtharaj made it as far as the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, D.C., just missing the semifinals round on a definition of "ogival."

The Meadow Park Middle School sixth grader sailed through spelling "pickelhaube" correctly in the second round and "Botticellian" in the round three, but stumbled in her description of "ogival," defined my Merriam-Webster online as a "diagonal arch or rib across a Gothic vault."

Amirtharaj, 11, finished the sentence, "Something described as 'ogival' is shaped like a ..." with "bullet," when "horn" was apparently the correct response, according to the Scripps website.

Around 270 of the 281 national bee qualifiers made it to the semifinals.

Amirtharaj qualified for the national competition in March by besting 55 Oregon students through 12 rounds in the Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee, correctly spelling words such as “rapscallion” and "hegemonic."

The regional bee invited fourth- through eighth-grade students attending Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas county public, private, alternative and home-school groups that win their individual school bees to compete at a regional level.

In addition to her expenses-paid trip to Washington for the annual Scripps bee, Amirtharaj's way with words won her a $100 American Express gift certificate from Comcast, a Webster's Third New International Dictionary and a one-year subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online Student Edition.

Jill Weisensee, coordinator for the Tribune's regional bee, congratulated Amirtharaj for making it as far along as she did in a tough competition.

"It's a lot of pressure for those kids. Words at that level are so much harder than at the regional level," she said. "The fact that she made it to third round at nationals is impressive. She still has another year in which she can compete if she wins the regionals again. We're very proud of her for making it as far as she did."

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