Evan M. O'Dorney is the 2007 champion of the 80th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Last night, the 13-year-old beat out 286 champion spellers from around the world by spelling "serrefine," a noun of French origin describing the small forceps used in surgical procedures.
The breakthrough win came after Nate Gartke, 13, of Alberta, Canada, misspelled "coryza" — an acute inflammatory respiratory disease.
But as O'Dorney, a home-schooled eighth grader from Danville, Calif., tells NPR's Robert Siegel, his favorite difficult word is "dghaisa" — a Maltese word for a small boat, similar to a gondola.
O'Dorney says that with his mother's guidance, he practiced spelling for two to three hours a day.
"We might decide to do G first," he said, "and then we would study each word, and decide on another letter to do, and so on. And so I memorized the whole book."
For placing first, O'Dorney won $35,000, a $5,000 scholarship, and a $2,500 savings bond, in addition to a complete set of reference works.