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Sunapee sisters will both compete in New Hampshire State Spelling Bee

SUNAPEE - For Abby Hanson, vacation week is study week, a time to learn words like "familiarity."

"That's one of the tough ones," says Abby, 10, who will compete in the New Hampshire State Spelling Bee at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.

Abby and her sister, Amanda, 11, both won their school spelling contests. Abby is a student at Sunapee Central Elementary School. Amanda Hanson attends Sunapee Middle High School.

This will be the 60th New Hampshire State Spelling Bee organized by the New Hampshire Union Leader. Under the format adopted last year, each school will send its top speller to the state competition. The student who wins will represent the Granite State at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

"The new format with finals on the big stage made for a really exciting spelling bee last year," said Union Leader Community Relations Manager Shannon Sullivan. "We look forward to bringing some of our state's brightest students together again this year, and we hope the public will come out to support them."

The New Hampshire Elks Association, a longtime sponsor, is continuing its support of the program by providing volunteers and funding for the winner and a family member to travel to the national competition.

Additional sponsors include Granite State College, the Derryfield School and the Common Man Family of Restaurants, which will provide free lunch for all the spellers and volunteers.

The state spelling bee format will mirror that of the national bee, which involves written and oral finals. After the written round in the morning, about 30 spellers will go on to the live oral round at 1 p.m. on the Capitol Center stage.

To win her school's test, Abby Hanson had to get through 22 levels of difficult word spellings for her age group. Her only failure was the word "subsequent." She won by spelling the word "orphan," she says.

She and her sister have been practicing with their parents, Eric and Diane Hanson, each day. The parents read words, and the sisters write down their answers.

It was during one of these tests this week that Abby ran into "familiarity" and got stuck.

But that didn't discourage her. "I think it's going to be really cool (at the contest Saturday)," she said.


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