Culver City Middle School student Cooper Komatsu, 12, a two-time winner in the history of the Culver City Unified School District Spelling Bee is now taking his talents to the national level.
The road to the Scripps title is different from the CCUSD event, which is for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders, while the Scripps National Spelling Bee is open to those 15 and under and in eighth-grade or lower.
Cooper finished first in the Los Angeles County Scripps Regional Spelling Bee on February 8 at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood and will represent the county at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the nation’s largest and longest running educational program. The competition is administered on a not-for-profit basis by Scripps in Cincinnati and each year, involves more than 11 million spellers, all of whom begin at the local level.
The grueling six-hour regional event ended when Cooper correctly spelled the word “carillon” – a musical instrument found in churches and universities, comprised of at least 23 bells arranged chromatically and tuned harmonically so that they can be played together from a keyboard.
Cooper went 13 rounds, correctly spelling each word thrown his way to defeat 102 other spellers from throughout Los Angeles County. More than 23,000 spellers competed to reach the Los Angeles County Regional event, but only the winner, Cooper, will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held May 24-29 in Washington, D.C.
“I worked really hard to get to Washington D.C., and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it!” said Cooper.
Three years ago, Cooper and his partner, Lily Haines from Indiana, finished seventh in the nation in the 2012 National School Scrabble Championship. In the same event in 2013, he and his partner, Sheng, finished 11th; and in 2014, he and his partner, finished fifth.
Two years ago, after winning the CCUSD Spelling Bee, he advanced to the Los Angeles County Spelling Bee, where he finished second, and ultimately went to the California State Spelling Bee, where he finished as California’s 24th best speller.
Last year, he became a two-time winner of the CCUSD Spelling Bee. As a seventh-grader, he was ineligible for this year’s bee. The CCUSD Spelling Bee is for students in fourth- through sixth-grade. But that didn’t keep him from showing up to support his fellow spellers and get in some extra practice.
“I missed one,” he admitted afterward. But here’s hoping he spells them all correctly on his quest for a national title.
The live oral (televised) rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be broadcast as follows:
Preliminaries – Wednesday, May 27 11 a.m. – 7:45 p.m. PDT on ESPN3
Semifinals – Thursday, May 28 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. PDT on ESPN2
Finals – Thursday, May 28 8 –10 p.m. PDT on ESPN
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