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Schuylkill Valley student advances in 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Emily M.X. Gunkel also competed in 2013 spelling bee

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - A Berks County student is no stranger to spelling under pressure.

Emily M.X. Gunkel, an eighth grader at Schuylkill Valley Middle School, is competing for the second straight year in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Emily correctly spelled "dundrearies" in the third round of competition in National Harbor, Maryland, on Wednesday. She advanced their by correctly spelling "soliloquy" in the second round earlier in the day.

Emily qualified for her return to the national contest by correctly spelling "sassafras" to win the Berks County Spelling Bee. Other words she correctly spelled locally include hollandaise, sashimi, flotilla, alkali and serendipity.

Emily, adopted from China, hopes to one day visit her birth country. She participates in her school jazz band and serves as captain of the Reading Olympics team.

The National Spelling Bee's semifinals and championship finals are set to be held Thursday.

The winner among the 281 students competing in this year's bee will be awarded a $30,000 cash prize, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and an engraved trophy.

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