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Ella Scheuermann exudes calm as she spells a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Scheuermann, a fifth-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School, won the bee after 26 rounds. She placed second last year. She now goes to Washington to represent the European Spelling PTA at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Ella Scheuermann exudes calm as she spells a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Scheuermann, a fifth-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School, won the bee after 26 rounds. She placed second last year. She now goes to Washington to represent the European Spelling PTA at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Ella Scheuermann exudes calm as she spells a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Scheuermann, a fifth-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School, won the bee after 26 rounds. She placed second last year. She now goes to Washington to represent the European Spelling PTA at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Ella Scheuermann exudes calm as she spells a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Scheuermann, a fifth-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School, won the bee after 26 rounds. She placed second last year. She now goes to Washington to represent the European Spelling PTA at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Ella Scheuermann, a fifth-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School in Germany, shows her certificate of participation after winning the 34th Annual Spelling Bee, conducted at Ramstein Elementary School, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. To her left are Crystal Lewis, the spelling bee's chairwoman, who holds up Scheuermann's prize, a copy of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, and Mary Beth Mitchell, the PTA's student vice president from Stuttgart High School, who prepares to hang on the winner's medal.

Ella Scheuermann, a fifth-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School in Germany, shows her certificate of participation after winning the 34th Annual Spelling Bee, conducted at Ramstein Elementary School, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. To her left are Crystal Lewis, the spelling bee's chairwoman, who holds up Scheuermann's prize, a copy of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, and Mary Beth Mitchell, the PTA's student vice president from Stuttgart High School, who prepares to hang on the winner's medal. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Angel Torio, a student from Neztaberg Middle School in Eschenbach, Germany, searches his memory for the spelling of a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Torio placed fourth in the competition.

Angel Torio, a student from Neztaberg Middle School in Eschenbach, Germany, searches his memory for the spelling of a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Torio placed fourth in the competition. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Arielle Anthony spells a word during an early round of the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Anthony, a student at Aukamm Elementary School in Wiesbaden, had a relatively short trip to the competition, but one came all the way from Turkey.

Arielle Anthony spells a word during an early round of the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Anthony, a student at Aukamm Elementary School in Wiesbaden, had a relatively short trip to the competition, but one came all the way from Turkey. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Yolanda Easton, center, was one of three judges at the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The adviser for the Ramstein Enlisted Spouses Organization was joined by Deborah Henson, left, a teacher at the school, and Senior Airman Marissa Newman of the 86th Medical Operations Squadron.

Yolanda Easton, center, was one of three judges at the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The adviser for the Ramstein Enlisted Spouses Organization was joined by Deborah Henson, left, a teacher at the school, and Senior Airman Marissa Newman of the 86th Medical Operations Squadron. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Keira Labrador, a student at Naples Elementary School in Italy, listens as a word is read out during the European PTA Spelling Bee, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Thirty-two students came from as far away as Turkey to participate in the competition at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany.

Keira Labrador, a student at Naples Elementary School in Italy, listens as a word is read out during the European PTA Spelling Bee, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Thirty-two students came from as far away as Turkey to participate in the competition at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Mackenzie Thomas, center, a student at the Brussels American School in Belgium, competed with 31 others in the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. To her left is Grafenwoehr Elementary School student Ella Scheuermann, the spelling bee winner; to her right is Caden Burkman, a student at Incirlik Unit School in Turkey.

Mackenzie Thomas, center, a student at the Brussels American School in Belgium, competed with 31 others in the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. To her left is Grafenwoehr Elementary School student Ella Scheuermann, the spelling bee winner; to her right is Caden Burkman, a student at Incirlik Unit School in Turkey. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Jase Burkman sits on the sidelines of the Europe-wide spelling bee at Ramstein Elementary School, playing video games on an iPad instead of watching his brother Caden compete, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The Burkmans, students at Incirlik Unit School, came to Germany all the way from Turkey for the 34th annual event, sponsored by the European PTA.

Jase Burkman sits on the sidelines of the Europe-wide spelling bee at Ramstein Elementary School, playing video games on an iPad instead of watching his brother Caden compete, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The Burkmans, students at Incirlik Unit School, came to Germany all the way from Turkey for the 34th annual event, sponsored by the European PTA. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

A judge writes out a word as it's being spelled by a contestant during the European PTA Spelling Bee, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Thirty-two students from Department of Defense Education Activity schools competed in the 34th annual bee, held at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany.

A judge writes out a word as it's being spelled by a contestant during the European PTA Spelling Bee, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Thirty-two students from Department of Defense Education Activity schools competed in the 34th annual bee, held at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Alexander Cueva, a student at Netzaberg Elementary School in Eschenbach, Germany, taps out a word on his had as he spells it during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein High School, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Cueva was one of 31 students from Department of Defense Activity Schools who participated in the 34th annual bee.

Alexander Cueva, a student at Netzaberg Elementary School in Eschenbach, Germany, taps out a word on his had as he spells it during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein High School, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Cueva was one of 31 students from Department of Defense Activity Schools who participated in the 34th annual bee. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Sharon Emerling, a teacher at Landstuhl Elementary Middle School, reads out a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Students from as far away as Turkey competed in the 34th annual bee.

Sharon Emerling, a teacher at Landstuhl Elementary Middle School, reads out a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Students from as far away as Turkey competed in the 34th annual bee. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Alexander Daniels of Hainerberg Elementary School in Germany spells a word during the 34th Annual European Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Daniels was one of 32 competitors in the bee.

Alexander Daniels of Hainerberg Elementary School in Germany spells a word during the 34th Annual European Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Daniels was one of 32 competitors in the bee. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Naomi Wheeler of Vicenza Middle School in Italy spells a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Students from throughout Department of Defense Education Activity Schools in Europe participated in the34th annual competition.

Naomi Wheeler of Vicenza Middle School in Italy spells a word during the European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Students from throughout Department of Defense Education Activity Schools in Europe participated in the34th annual competition. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Madelynn Valles, a student at AFNORTH International School in Brunnssum, Netherlands, writes a word on her hand before spelling it during the 34th Annual European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Valles placed second in the competition.

Madelynn Valles, a student at AFNORTH International School in Brunnssum, Netherlands, writes a word on her hand before spelling it during the 34th Annual European PTA Spelling Bee at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Valles placed second in the competition. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Angel Torio bounds back onto the stage after rejoining the competition at the 34th Annual European PTA Spelling Bee, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Judges ruled that the bee's "pronouncer" had mispronounced the word he had just spelled wrong. Torio, a student at Netzaberg Middle School in Germany, placed fourth in the bee, held at Ramstein Elementary School.

Angel Torio bounds back onto the stage after rejoining the competition at the 34th Annual European PTA Spelling Bee, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Judges ruled that the bee's "pronouncer" had mispronounced the word he had just spelled wrong. Torio, a student at Netzaberg Middle School in Germany, placed fourth in the bee, held at Ramstein Elementary School. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

The three top winners of the European PTA Spelling Bee take a breather after the 22nd round of the event at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The competition continued for four more rounds. From left, first-place winner Ella Scheuermann, third-place winner Tyler Hawkins and second-place winner Madelynn Valles.

The three top winners of the European PTA Spelling Bee take a breather after the 22nd round of the event at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The competition continued for four more rounds. From left, first-place winner Ella Scheuermann, third-place winner Tyler Hawkins and second-place winner Madelynn Valles. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

Sharon Gilbert, rear left, the European PTA president, reads out the names of competitors in the organization's spelling bee and hands out certificates of participation, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The 34th annual bee was held at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany. In the front row, from left, are Leah Durkee, Sigonella Elementary School, Italy; Benicio Diaz, Rota Middle School, Italy; Ian Deaton, Landstuhl Elementary Middle School, Germany; and Alexander Cueva, Netzaberg Elementary School, Germany.

Sharon Gilbert, rear left, the European PTA president, reads out the names of competitors in the organization's spelling bee and hands out certificates of participation, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The 34th annual bee was held at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany. In the front row, from left, are Leah Durkee, Sigonella Elementary School, Italy; Benicio Diaz, Rota Middle School, Italy; Ian Deaton, Landstuhl Elementary Middle School, Germany; and Alexander Cueva, Netzaberg Elementary School, Germany. (Andrew Yurkovsky/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Participants in the European PTA Spelling Bee on Saturday displayed the kind of confidence and composure that would have put most adults to shame.

In fact, they were so cool they probably could have bluffed the world’s best poker player. Even those who flubbed a word didn’t miss a beat.

Yet 11-year-old Ella Scheuermann was getting nervous and a little bit weary after the 24th round of the 34th annual event, held at Ramstein Elementary School. She asked to break for lunch. When there seemed to be some reluctance from spectators and the two other remaining contestants, she agreed to go ahead.

As it turned out, Scheuermann needn’t have worried. The Grafenwoehr fifth-grader, who placed second last year, emerged the winner after two more rounds when she spelled the championship word, “perturbed,” correctly.

Thirty-two students from Department of Defense Education Activity Schools participated in the Europe-wide spelling bee, open to those from grades 3 to 8.

Scheuermann now goes on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which takes place in Washington in May. She’ll use her prize from Saturday’s event, the massive Webster’sThird New International Dictionary, to study for the national competition.

The second-place winner was Madelynn Valles, 12, a sixth-grader at AFNorth International School in Brunnsum, Netherlands.

Together with Scheuermann, Valles appeared to breeze through the competition without a sweat, a smile on her face the whole time. Her streak ended with the word “grovel,” whose rendering by the contest “pronouncer” she seemed to have trouble recognizing. She spelled it “grauvel.”

Third place was taken by Tyler Hawkins of Ramstein Intermediate School, who was flummoxed by the word “masonry,” which he spelled “masenry.”

Scheuermann is such a consistently correct speller that she’s probably more accurate than a computer’s spell-check. She reportedly has gotten only one less-than-perfect score in all of her weekly spelling tests — back when she was in the first grade. “I was super mad!” she said, speaking to a reporter after the competition.

She’s developed some special techniques for staying cool.

“I have these rituals,” she said. “After I get a word wrong, I drink a bit of water and swallow it in two gulps.” Before it’s her turn, she tenses up and then relaxes.

As high as the stakes were in Saturday’s spelling bee, there was little drama. The most exciting moment came when Angel Torio, a student at Netzaberg Elementary School in Germany, re-entered the competition after judges ruled that a word he had misspelled had been given to him with an incorrect pronunciation. The fourth-place contestant jumped back onto the stage. His competitors seemed to share in the joy of his good fortune.

yurkovsky.andrew@stripes.com


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