Shoemaker placed second after spelling the word “braille.” However, Shoemaker spelled it correctly; it was Selma school officials who claimed the word only contains one “l,” Yahoo News reported.
“I didn’t want to say anything because, you know, if the wordmaster tells you you have a word wrong, you don’t really argue with him. I was shocked,” she told Fox 26 KMPH News, claiming she witnessed the audience’s confusion after the spelling bee organizer's announcement that she had lost.
“I took it pretty hard,” the girl's mother, Renee Shoemaker, said. “I was pretty upset for Sierra and Sierra had taken it pretty hard as well.”
Shoemaker still took home a trophy, but the mistake would have caused the student to miss out in participating in future competitions until a recent petition was passed by Selma Unified Assistant Superintedent, Teresa Wood. Shoemaker will now be one of the three students competing in the upcoming Fresno County spelling bee.
“I’m ecstatic. I don’t know, I’m just really excited,” said the girl, who said she learned a valuable lesson from the experience.
“If you don’t get it the first time all you have to do is try harder the next,” she said.