Danville resident Evan O'Dorney, 13, emerged the champion from the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals in Washington, D.C., yesterday after correctly spelled "serrefine." It was his third appearance at the finals.
Downtown Danville was crowded with news agencies and cameras Friday morning to see the town that spawned the talented young man.
Channel 2 newscasters interrupted Mayor Mike Shimansky's first Friday coffee at Father Nature's to ask for a statement.
"We're extremely proud," said Shimansky, who noted that he'd watched the spelling bee on televsion. "I couldn't even pronounce the words he spelled. And spelling isn't even his top priority! I think he'll represent the town extremely well."
The Town of Danville will present O'Dorney with a proclamation upon his return, probably in July, Shimansky said. Plus he hopes to "show him off" in Danville's Fourth of July Parade.
Shimansky said he tried to telephone Evan to congratulate him, like the presidents of the United States call the Superbowl winners, but was unsuccessful.
O'Dorney is homeschooled by his mother Jennifer through Venture School, and she and his father Michael, a BART operator, were in attendance. This was Evan's last chance to win the Bee, which is for students in grades 6-8.
O'Dorney bested state champion spellers from across the country at the national event. The 80th annual spelling bee was televised on ESPN, giving friends and other Danville residents a chance to follow along, word by word as the young spellers took the podium. A serrefine is "small spring forceps used for approximating the edges of a wound or for temporarily closing an artery during an operation."
The Scripps National Spelling Bee Web site reported: "Evan is dedicated to Tae Kwon Do and has earned a first degree black belt. He loves to play piano: In addition to taking lessons at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he accompanies his church's children's choir. This year he began attending the Berkeley Math Circle and achieved success in various math competitions: He earned a perfect score in the American Mathematics Competition for 10th grade, the American Invitational Mathematics Examination, and the Bay Area Math Olympiad."
Besides the honor of being named the best speller in the nation, O'Dorney was awarded a large trophy and $20,000.