Spelling Bee Champs: Where Are They Now?


Sealfon recently graduated from Princeton University and is working on her doctoral degree. In December, she wrote an article in the Brooklynite magazine about a biweekly hipster spelling bee held in a popular Brooklyn bar.

It seems Sealfon has mellowed. She writes in the article: "I sit at a small candlelit table in the back room, glad to be out of the fray. Once upon a time, I took spelling very seriously. I used to rise before dawn to study roots and word lists. In 1997, when I was 13, I won the National Spelling Bee championship. Now, I sit back and watch."

In a testament to her enduring popularity, the TV show "South Park" even modeled a character named Rebecca Cutswald on her in an episode called "Hooked on Monkey Phonics."

David Tidmarsh, who dreamed of being a spelling bee champ in third grade and read the dictionary each day to make it happen, is now a 16-year-old high school student in South Bend, Ind.

He'll sometimes flip through the dictionary, but he has other diversions these days, like acting in his school's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

He said the transition from instant celebrity back to regular teenager wasn't so painful.

"I got used to the anonymity again," he said.

The spelling bee elder statesmen had a few words of advice for this year's up-and-comers: "Stay calm. … And keep it simple."

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