After five hours and 20 tension-filled rounds, "Sikhism" (an Indian religion founded in the late 15th century) was music to her ears. "They were older and they know more words than I do". "I was so excited", said Howard, who won last year's state bee by spelling "Acadian", but not before having to ask for its definition and for it to be used in a sentence.
She's preparing for her trip to Washington, D.C., this weekend to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and will be among 291 other spellers from across the country.
There were 55 students in the state spelling bee this year, from public, private, parochial and home schools.
That field will be winnowed in preliminary rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, then further trimmed to about a dozen finalists during Thursday's rigorous day session, setting the stage for the nationally televised championship final on Thursday night.
Her favorite subject is math because "it comes easily to me", she said.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a competition unlike any other, with a rich tradition that goes back almost a century.
Jessie's older brother and grandparents will also travel to watch her compete.
Aditya's first test at the bee will come in the form of a written examination on May 30.
"We're really proud of him", said O'Connor, seated next to her husband, Doug Lawrence, who will be driving Connor and his wife to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center for the event in Oxon Hill, Md.
This year, Erin is hoping to do even better.
"We're trying to work things out so maybe she doesn't feel all that pressure", said Justin Fuller, her father. "On stage, they have really bright lights and a lot of people in front of you and so, if I had stage fright, then I'd have a lot of problems".
He is going to "have fun while I am there", the Three Village district student said. The middle school student is competing in this week's Scripp's National Spelling Bee. "We wish him the best of luck at the national level, but no matter the outcome, he is always a victor to us", she said.
"I learned that it was Italian and I let that piece it together".
"I'm using outside websites more rather than just relying on the national site", Prasad said. "The only role I had in this was coordinating the spelling bee".
Both Katie and Erin will be exploring D.C. with Kelly, and cheering her on during the Bee on June 1. Others seem to agree: The Ohio Music Education Association gave her a superior rating for trumpet solo, she has been playing with two high school bands, and she has joined the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band, which consists mostly of adults. For them, the bee is an all-consuming, year-round pursuit. "It was hilarious and it was very kind".
The finals on Thursday start at 10 in the morning on ESPN 2 and continue in prime time on ESPN at 8:30 p.m.