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Illinois student heads to Spelling Bee finals

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Education,Illinois

CHICAGO (AP) — A suburban Chicago eight grader is one of 12 students to advance to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.

Fourteen-year-old Alia Abiad (AH'-bee-ahd) is from Western Springs and is a student at McClure Junior High School. She'll compete in the Bee's 87th championship round, which will take place live in prime time on Thursday night.

The competition began Wednesday with more than 280 students from around the country. But only 46 spellers — including five from Illinois — advanced to the semifinals using scores from onstage words and a computerized spelling-vocabulary test.

The winner gets more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.

Abiad placed 19th overall in last year's spelling bee.

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