WASHINGTON -- George Abraham Thampy might not know all of the geography of Denmark. But when it comes to spelling, he's the champ.
The 12-year-old Missouri boy won the 2000 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee on Thursday by correctly spelling ''demarche,'' which means a step or maneuver.
And this came only one week after he placed second in a national geography bee.
''My mom and dad taught me everything,'' the Maryland Heights, Mo., boy said modestly after winning the two-day spelling contest.
And he wasn't exaggerating. His mother, Bina, works full-time teaching her four sons and three daughters.
With the victory, George became only the second home-schooler ever to win the national spelling competition. ''What makes home-schooling better is that Mom and Dad allow me to be flexible,'' George said. ''I can do something else like Latin.''
To win, he spelled ''fondu,'' ''waiver,'' ''serendipity,'' ''ersatz,'' ''surfactant,'' ''vesicant,'' ''emmetropia,'' ''annelid,'' ''trophobiosis,'' ''psilosis,'' ''quodlibet,'' ''eudaemonic,'' ''ditokous,'' ''propaedeutic'' and ''demarche'' correctly over two days.
George's knowledge earned him $10,000 in the spelling bee. The money, he said, would go to his parents.
His second place showing in the geography bee earned him $15,000. He missed out on the top spot when he could name only one of the three largest sections of Denmark. His opponent named all three.
George's final two spelling bee rivals also were taught at home:
--In second was Sean Conley, 12, of Newark, Calif. ''Apotropaic,'' which means designed to avert evil, tripped him up; he spelled it ''apotrypaic.'' He won $5,000.
--Alison Miller, 14, from Niskayuna, N.Y., took third and $3,000. Alison missed ''venire.'' She spelled the word for drawing qualified people as jurors ''veniery.''
''This is outstanding confirmation of the academic excellence of home-schooling,'' said Michael Farris, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va.
Rebecca Sealfon on New York City became the first home-schooled winner of the national competition in 1997. This year, 27 bee contestants were taught at home, ahead of youngsters attending private and parochial schools and second to public school students, 178.
This was George's third try for the spelling championship. He tied for fourth in 1998 and finished in a third-place tie last year. But he said a thirst for knowledge, rather than a quest for the $10,000 top prize, motivated him to return.
''It was really the words. And there were 400,000 of them, '' he said, referring to the number of entries in the official dictionary used at the 73rd annual bee.
George also was popular among the other spellers, who rushed the stage after his victory.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.