On May 29, homeschooled eighth-grader Evelyn Blacklock from Tuxedo Park, New York, placed second in the National Spelling Bee. The word that finally tripped her up? "Gnathonic," which means sycophantic or fawning. In spite of missing out on first place, Evelyn still took home a $6,000 cash prize.
"Success in these kinds of competitions is a logical extension of good academics," says Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association. "The achievement of these homeschoolers shows that their parents have provided excellent academic instruction."
The impact of homeschooling in these academic competitions goes beyond students who win. Although homeschoolers make up approximately 2 percent of the U.S. school-age population, they made up 12 percent of the 251 spelling bee finalists and 5 percent of the 55 geography bee finalists. Three of the past seven spelling bee winners have been homeschooled. Last year's homeschooled winner of the geography bee was 10 years old, the youngest in that event's history.