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In the News: MTSU winner makes semifinals of Natio...

In the News: MTSU winner makes semifinals of National Spelling Bee

Sumner County middle schooler Jonathan Caldwell, winner of this spring’s Middle Tennessee 2013 Regional Spelling Bee at MTSU, made it to the second round of the national semifinals Thursday before tripping over a piece of paper.

Jonathan Caldwell of Hendersonville, Tenn., right, winner of the Middle Tennessee 2013 Regional Spelling Bee at MTSU, is joined by his mother, Holly Caldwell, for publicity photos after his 18th-round win March 20. Caldwell will be an eighth-grader at Merrol Hyde Magnet School this fall. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

Not literally, of course, but the word “pergameneous” — or parchment-like — ended the friendly, focused young man’s quest to become the nation’s top speller for 2013 at this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.

This image by the Associated Press of Caldwell’s reaction was quickly published across the country.

Caldwell, 13, who will be in the eighth grade this fall at Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville, Tenn., won a trip to Washington, D.C., for himself and his family when he outspelled 43 other young Midstate residents at MTSU on March 20.

He competed against 280 students from across the country at the national bee, spelling his way to the sixth overall round with words like “persiflage.” Caldwell was one of six spellers representing Tennessee and the only Tennessean to make the semifinals.

New Yorker Arvind Mahankali, also 13, won the national bee, along with more than $30,000 in cash and other prizes, by correctly spelling “kneidel.”

You can read more about Caldwell’s regional win at