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Virginia girl is youngest ever in National Spelling Bee

Lori Anne Madison, 6, of Lake Ridge, Va., walks through river water while playing with friends in a park in McLean, Va., on May 11.
Lori Anne Madison, 6, of Lake Ridge, Va., walks through river water while playing with friends in a park in McLean, Va., on May 11.Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

Lori Anne Madison may be only 6 years old, but she's got a big talent: She's among the best spellers in the nation.

On Wednesday, the home-schooled girl from Lake Ridge, Va., who loves swimming, math and the outdoors, will compete with 277 other contestants -- many twice her age and size -- at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

“It’s been a busy day for everyone and I know her parents want her to get some rest and to be ready for the competition,” Ria Schalnat, spokeswoman for the bee, told msnbc.com on Tuesday.

Schalnat said Lori Anne's parents have refused interviews until Thursday, “and that is dependent on whether she qualifies for the semifinals.”

The annual spelling bee continues through Thursday. Preliminary competition starts at 8 a.m. ET Wednesday. The championship finals, slated for 8 p.m. ET Thursday, will be aired live on ESPN. 

Lori Anne started making waves in March when she correctly spelled “vaquero” to win her regional bee in northern Virginia, according to the Washington Post.

"It was shocking," The Associated Press quoted Sorina Madison as saying. "I didn't expect all the media attention. We're private people. We're regular people. It was intimidating. But I'm happy for her. She loves it and she does it because it's a passion, and we never push her into anything and want her to make her own choices."

Take the test: Could you keep up with these kids?

Lori Anne says she wants to be an astrobiologist.

Why? She told the AP: "I'm going to sort of find life forms. And, plus, alien planets are new."

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