US

Semifinals underway at National Spelling Bee; 42 spellers aiming to win title Thursday night

Katharine Wang, 11, of Beijing, China, second from left, hugs Amber Born, 14 of Marblehead, Massachusetts at the start of the semifinal round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 30, 2013. Matthew Donohue of Kingston, Mass. is at right. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Katharine Wang, 11, of Beijing, China, second from left, hugs Amber Born, 14 of Marblehead, Massachusetts at the start of the semifinal round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 30, 2013. Matthew Donohue of Kingston, Mass. is at right. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  (The Associated Press)

The semifinal round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is underway, with 42 youngsters vying for the title of champion spellers.

The contenders took the stage Thursday afternoon near Washington, D.C., amid hopes of advancing to the finals later in the evening.

The winner will take more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.

This year's bee included the first vocabulary tests in the competition's history. The scores were combined with the onstage rounds to determine which spellers advanced.