NATIONAL HARBOR — While she could have gone to the Maryland state math competition, 13-year-old Chloe Johnson decided to pursue spelling instead. And she almost made it to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

After several attempts to correctly pronounce the word “fecund,” which means fertile or capable of producing many offspring, Chloe, an eighth-grade honor student at Gov. Thomas Johnson Middle School, tried her hand at spelling it.

She got that right on the first try.

“I just took a good guess, and I just happened to be right,” Chloe said, adding that her knowledge of Latin and Greek roots helped her.

Although she got both “jacquard” and “fecund” correct, Chloe will not advance to the final because of her preliminary written test score. Jacquard refers to an intricately woven fabric, or the loom that creates that fabric, and is named for the Frenchman who invented it.

“No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep doing it. And no matter how you keep doing it, you’ve got to be happy with what you do, because otherwise you’re not going to have a good time,” Chloe said before the competition.

This is the third year Chloe has participated in a spelling bee, and this time she advanced to the national stage.

“Maturity” is what has changed about her, according to Chloe’s mother, Sherri Johnson. “The more you read, the more words you learn. I think her reading is something that just builds her vocabulary every day.”

As much as she wanted to help, Johnson said, Chloe has always been independent and able to manage her studies herself.

“She is learning piano right now by herself,” Johnson added.

There were 285 spellers in the entire competition; 284 showed up. Only 45 are moving forward to compete in the finals.

Although Chloe didn’t make it to the finals, Johnson said it is more important for Chloe to have fun and appreciate her accomplishment.

“I only get to do this once, and here I am. I am going to make the most out of it, and it’s been a really fun time,” Chloe said.

After finishing the school year, Chloe plans to train at the YMCA as a counselor this summer. She will also be preparing for the National American Miss competition later in the summer, a pageant that focuses on academics and career preparedness.


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Photo at top: Chloe Johnson uses her hand to write the word “Jacquard,” which she spelled correctly in the preliminary round of Scripps National Spelling bee at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Habor, Maryland Wednesday. (Dan Gross/The Frederick News-Post)