Six of the students are from Southern California. The local seventh and eighth grade students come from Walnut, Northridge, Anaheim, Ojai, Phelan and Moreno Valley.
The high-pressure competition amongst 275 spellers from across the United States began with a 25 word test.
Some of the words were easy- like "fourteen" and "wasteland." But there were also stumpers- like the medical word "pinealectomy."
Those passed will hit the stage Wednesday for the second and third rounds. The championship rounds are set for Thursday, once again airing on network television in prime time.
The bee has a new home this year, a convention center in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. It's the first time the competition hasn't been held in the nation's capital.
The Associated Press contributed to this story