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New Spelling Bee Champ Had to Be Letter-Perfect

After 13 rounds of competition Saturday at Taft High School, Michael Yeranosian out-spelled seventh- and eighth-grade students from 32 schools. He will now compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C, in May.

Such words as “blather” and “pettifogger” emptied the seats around him, but he held on, spelling “privileges” in a showdown with Raymond Ople of Holy Family Elementary, who missed on “cicada.”

Michael is a student at Agbu Manoogian-Demirdjian, a private school.

Families, friends and coaches filled the audience for the 9 a.m. spell-fest.

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Among the spectators, Gerald Schneider, the alternate from Sierra Canyon Middle School, applauded Christine Terry, who represented their school in Saturday’s competition. Gerald lost a runoff to Christine by misspelling “Jungian.”

Christine lost in the seventh round with a slip on “opulent.”

The National Spelling Bee began in 1925 for students in public, private, parochial, charter and home schools.

The 1999 Scripps Howard National Bee is expected to include more than 240 finalists. Saturday’s regional competition was sponsored by the Daily News.

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