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85th National Spelling Bee contestants test their knowledge in preliminary rounds

Evan Vucci / AP

Sam Lowery, of Charlestown, Mass., spells his word in the air during round two of the National Spelling Bee onMay 30, 2012 in National Harbor, Md.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Alex Howe, 9, of Victorville, Calif,, right, yawns next to Sam T.E. Nitz, 13, of Costa Mesa, Calif., as they compete in the National Spelling Bee on Wednesday

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Ann Marie Brown, 14, of Hosford, Fla., competes on Wednesday.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Smart young people from across the nation compete to become the next National Spelling Bee champion.

 From AP:  NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The 85th National Spelling Bee is under way. Thirteen-year-old Kevin Lazenby of Opelika, Ala., stepped to the microphone Wednesday morning at a convention center outside Washington and correctly spelled "witticism."

The 278 participants won local and regional spelling bees to make the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Each gets the opportunity to spell two words during Wednesday's preliminary rounds. Their scores will be combined with scores from a 50-word computer test to determine the field of no more than 50 semifinalists.  Read the latest on the contest here.


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