Snoqualmie fifth-grader places 22nd at National Spelling Bee

Declan Mallady, 11, rose to local fame as the sole competitor from Washington state.

Of the 245 students on the Scripps National Spelling Bee stage in National Harbor, Maryland, on May 28, only one stood representing Washington state.

Declan Mallady, 11, a fifth-grader from Snoqualmie, was sent off to the competition with a student and staff-led hallway parade at Snoqualmie Elementary School. He rose to local fame after winning the Regional Spelling Bee of King and Snohomish County, qualifying him for the national bee.

“Declan mania was truly incredible. From the send-off at Snoqualmie Elementary to watching him compete through six rounds, it was amazing, but seeing how this story captivated our community was the most inspiring,” wrote Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Dan Schlotfeldt. “He truly swept the hearts of the Snoqualmie Valley. We could not be prouder of him and his accomplishments.”

Mallady was one of 45 spellers to advance to the semifinals on May 29, having correctly spelled cantatrice, macadam and arista — and having defined the words osprey and dilettantish.

“My goal for him was to have fun and just spell the first word right,” Mallady’s mom Kimberly said. “Then he just kept going. I was brought back to when he told me to stop underestimating him after regionals. I was surprised and excited every time he got one right.”

In round 7, Mallady misspelled ferredoxin and was eliminated, tying him for 22nd place with the other eliminated semi-finalists.

“He was pretty upset for probably an hour, and then he got over it,” Mallady said. “He was super excited to get so far.”

Before he left the stage, Mary Brooks, the bee’s head judge, encouraged Mallady to continue competing.

“Amazing, you are one of our youngest in the semifinals. I hope your class has been watching this afternoon and all of those other fifth-graders out there,” she said. “And I’m hoping that you will continue your love of spelling, and we will see you back here next year and in years beyond.”

Bruhat Soma, 12, a seventh-grader and third-time competitor from Florida, won the bee in a 90-second spell-off, correctly spelling 29 words without stopping to ask for any definitions or language of origins.

Schlotfeldt said the Snoqualmie Valley School District plans to honor Mallady at an upcoming board meeting.