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SELMA, CA. (CNN) – Many of us can go back to our childhoods and remember the agonizing feelings of competing in a spelling bee, and hoping to get the word right.

But, what if we told you it wasn’t the kid who couldn’t spell the word, but the people running the competition…

And they still disqualified the student?

It happened to a girl in California.

And Erik Rosales has her story.

In the game scrabble, the object is to create words out of letters.

But what if you ended up getting the word Braille.


That’s the word 12-year-old Sierra Shoemaker had to spell in the Selma School District spelling bee last Friday.

She spelled it correctly, but on the judges and word master spelling sheet it was spelled like this with one l.

The judges said sierra spelled it wrong.

“I didn’t really want to say anything because when the word master tells you spelled a word wrong you don’t really want to argue with him. So I was kinda shocked, I was kinda like what? I looked around at the audience and half of them were looking at each other, murmuring.”

Sierra graciously took home her second place trophy, soon after they got a call from Selma district officials.

“They said they were going to petition the county and they could apologize to me over the phone but..

“Like no way man, I won, I want to go.”


“She called me yesterday to let me know that they petitioned and appealed the original answer which I’m assuming was no because the appeal was no, and I just took it pretty hard, I was pretty upset for sierra and sierra had taken it hard as well.”

However, Selma Unified’s superintendent and others realized it was an error, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“Finally got some resolution and were given permission to submit three names rather than two.”

So Sierra is in and is now busy learning her new words for the Fresno County spelling bee competition.

“I’m ecstatic, I don’t know, I’m just really excited.”

So what did she learn from all this…

“If you don’t get it the first time all you have to do is try harder the next.”

“Sierra says she wants to thank everyone with Selma Unified for going to bat for her. And if she gets this word again in the county spelling bee, you better believe she’ll know how to spell it.”

So come March 21st, Sierra and two others from Selma will represent the district in the 2013 Fresno County spelling bee.

By the way, sierra’s mom was also a competitor in her county spelling bee, so it runs in the family.