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Originally published March 25, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Page modified March 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM

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12-year-old girl is bound for D.C. after winning regional spelling bee

Camille Murphy won the King-Snohomish Regional Spelling Bee on Sunday afternoon. The 12-year-old from St. Joseph School on Seattle's Capitol Hill now heads to the national bee in Washington, D.C.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Go Camille! We should celebrate your dedication and guts, just as we do with sports... MORE
Congratulations Camille and St. Joseph School. Well done. MORE
Good for her! Good luck in the national competition! MORE

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"Putrescible" is a real stinker of a word — in fact, it means something that is liable to decay — so it seems only fitting that Camille Murphy clinched the King-Snohomish Regional Spelling Bee on Sunday afternoon by spelling out putrescible, very slowly, letter by letter.

All she had to do was follow it up with the correct spelling of "dystopia," and the 12-year-old from St. Joseph School on Capitol Hill won herself a trip to Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Camille wasn't familiar with putrescible, but "I thought of the roots of other words," she said, and figured out how it must be spelled.

"She's a pretty determined little kid," said her mom, Laurie Murphy, who joined her onstage after the win with dad Mike Murphy. Camille studied words in the weeks leading up to the event, and even had classmates quiz her on the way to school, the Murphys said.

Camille lasted through seven rounds of play, when 56 other students were eliminated, leaving only her and Walker Caplan, an eighth-grader from Lakeside Middle School in Seattle, on stage.

Walker and Camille both stumbled in rounds nine and 10 (Walker was tripped up by catalineta and perturbedly, Camille by mellifluous and epistolary). Then came round 11, when Walker incorrectly spelled codeine, leaving the door open for Camille's win.

Ryan Garvan of Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe came in third.

The event at Town Hall Seattle lasted for more than three hours, as several hundred word-lovers, parents and friends oohed over the correct spelling of pitchblende, pneumatic and klompen, and then ahhhed when students stumbled over cachet, amicable, susceptible and chary.

Volunteer Feliks Banel served as the pronouncer, and Kitty Harmon issued the precisely delivered phrase of success: "That is correct." The ding of a small bell dismissed students who stumbled.

Harmon said she and Banel have been active in the spelling bee for years. "We've been doing this so long, we don't know how to stop," she said.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or klong@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @katherinelong.

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