Jackson eighth-grader misses final cut at national spelling bee

WASHINGTON D.C. – He spelled both of his words correctly Wednesday with the cameras rolling, but Jackson eighth-grader Ian Shasha missed the final cut at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Ian’s total score was 24 points. He needed 29 to advance to the final round of 40 spellers on Thursday, June 1.

The Middle School at Parkside student scored 18 out of 30 points on the preliminary vocabulary test on May 30. He added six more points for spelling the words “quidnunc” and “perspicacious” correctly in rounds two and three on May 31.

Ian Shasha, an eighth-grader at Middle School at Parkside in Jackson, signs a poster at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 29, 2017. 

Merriam-Webster defines quidnunc as a person who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip. It defines perspicacious, an adjective, as meaning of acute mental vision or discernment.

Ian is a quiet kid, but a competitive one. He said he isn’t a perfectionist, but he is disappointed. He wanted to be in the final round.

He worked hard for it, studying at least one hour a day, every day for months, he said.

Nevertheless, the overall experience was a good one.

“It was eye-opening,” Ian said. “Just to see so many talented people, it made me think about how I want to become better and achieve more.”

Round two and three of the bee was broadcast on ESPN 3. Being on television made Ian nervous, he said. He just tuned the cameras out and focused on spelling.

“I’m overall happy I didn’t embarrass myself on TV or anything like that,” he said.

Shasha Wu, Ian’s father, said his son has grown during his pursuit of competing at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It was a dream that began two years earlier when Ian was a sixth-grader.

“We felt good to see him do well in round two and round three,” he said. “We were so proud to watch Ian perform on the stage.”

Ian and his parents plan to spend Thursday exploring the nation’s capital. It’s their first time in Washington D.C.

They plan to visit The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, among other monuments and memorials.

He returns to school on Monday.

Ian said he expects a lot of “congratulations” from classmates and teachers.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee continues Thursday, June 1 on ESPN 2.

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