A student from the in Tarzana is among a field of 278 competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which begins today in National Harbor, Md.
Nickan Fayyazi, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Portola, will be among students taking a 50-word computer spelling test today at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, with 25 of the words counting toward the score.
Nickan said his best subject is math, his favorite sport is skiing, but he also enjoys snowboarding and tennis, speaks French and Farsi, aspires to be an engineer and has a cat named Bijou.
On Wednesday, the spellers will take part in rounds two and three; these are conducted on stage and require students to spell one word in each round. Spellers earn three points for each correctly spelled word, giving each speller the chance to earn up to 31 points in the first three rounds. At the end of round three, the field will be reduced to a maximum of 50 spellers.
The semifinal and championship rounds will be held Thursday, with a contestant eliminated after he or she misspells a word. Rounds two and three can be seen on the broadband network ESPN3.com beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday. ESPN2 will carry the semifinals from 7 a.m.-10 a.m. Thursday.
The championship finals will be on ESPN from 5-7 p.m. Thursday. Throughout the entire competition, ESPN3.com will carry a second ``play along'' version, which viewers can watch without seeing the word so they can test their spelling skills against the champion spellers.
The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with contestants ranging in age from 6 -- Lori Anne Madison of Woodbridge, Va., the youngest speller on record -- to 15 years old.
The winner of the bee will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation; $2,600 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica, including its final print edition, and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond; a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and a Nook Color and online language course from Middlebury Interactive Languages.
The field consists of students who won locally sponsored bees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe. Eight foreign nations are also represented: the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Southern California has produced only one champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which began in 1925: Anurag Kashyap of Poway, the 2005 winner.