A word with Middle English origin meaning woe and sorrow was the downfall of Wall's Aine Donohue, whose hopes for a bid on the Scripps National Spelling Bee were dashed at a regional competition Tuesday night.
But not before about 89 other spellers at the regional Spelldown held at Monmouth University's Pollak Theater Monday and Tuesday were eliminated from the annual spelling competition.
Aine narrowly missed advancing to the top 10 finalists after she misspelled "wellaway," during the fourth round of the Spelldown's second night of competition on Tuesday at Monmouth University.
Before taking her best shot at the interjection refering to woe and sorrow, Aine asked pronouncer Bill Zapcic to define the archaic word and use it in a sentence.
Upon hearing from Zapcic and a panel of three judges that she had misspelled the word, Aine left the Pollak Theatre stage as directed by Spelldown coordinators. She received her certification of accomplishment from an event organizer as she went into the theatre's seating area where her parents, Chris and Monica Donohue, and brother Sean, 10, waited for her.
But when she graduates St. Rose Grammar School, Belmar, in June, Aine will be remembered as the only student from the Belmar-based parochial school to have participated in the Spelldown Regional Spelling Bee for three consecutive years.
About 89 of her grade five-through-eight peers who had competed over the two nights of competition had left the stage before Aine.
Though Aine's journey to the spelling bee for middle schoolers has ended, she and her parents are pleased that the straight A+ student has more words in her vernacular than the average 13-year-old girl.
"Vernacular," a term of Italian origin, was the term that Aine correctly spelled in Tuesday night's first round.
Under the guidance of Mary Burns, St. Rose's spelling bee coordinator, Aine has practiced spelling complex, multi-syllabic terms unfamiliar to most children or adults for the better part of three years.
The first place winner of the Spelldown, which started on Monday night, with 100 public, private, parochial or home-schooled students from Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties, will represent the region in the renowned Scripps competition from May 29 to 31.
Mary Burns, the spelling bee coordinator from St. Rose, provided Aine with an extensive list of words to add to her vernacular.
"She gave me about 1200 words," Aine said during a break between rounds. "My parents also quizzed me on the spelling."
To be even more prepared, Monica Donohue contacted the E.W. Scripps Company, the main sponsor of the national spelling bee, for more verbage. Those materials provided Aine with more information about the possible spelling words.
"She also studies the language of the origin of those words," Monica Donohue said.
Though Aine is considering college, she has not decided on a career choice yet. She will enter St. Rose High School, adjacent to the grammar school, in September.
At the night's onset, 48 children sat onstage before a panel consisting of a word "pronouncer" and three judges. The participants decreased to 34 for the second round, and to 25 for the third round.
In round two, Aine correctly spelled "mandir," a Sanskrit term for a Hindu or Jain temple. For the third round, she correctly spelled "croesus," a Greek word defined as a word for "a very rich man," by pronouncer Bill Zapcic.
The Donohues are proud of all of Aine's achievements. At St. Rose, she edits the school newspaper, represents her class on the student council, and works on the yearbook committee, Monica Donohue said.
Aine is also a member of the school's cross country and track teams and soccer and softball teams. Outside of school, she participates in swimming and dance classes.