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Indian-American kids conquer US spelling bee

May 31, 2008
Sameer Mishra, 13, of West Lafayette, Indiana, won the 81st Scripps National Spelling Bee, correctly spelling 'guerdon,' which means something one has earned or gained, a reward. With his win, Indian American children, who had such a bad spell last year, came roaring back at this year's annual 81st Bee.

Mishra, an eighth-grader at West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School, is appearing in the competition for the fourth time. He took home the championship trophy - an engraved loving cup from Scripps - a $30,000 cash prize, a $2,500 US Savings Bond and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster, a $5,000 cash prize from Sigma Psi Epsilon Educational Foundation, and reference works valued at more than $3,800 from Enclycopedia Britannica.

In second place was Siddharth Chand, 12, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, who was making his debut and went toe-to-toe with Mishra in the 12th,13th, and 14th rounds, till he was felled by the world 'prosopopoeia' which he misspelled as 'prosopopoea.'

Chand takes home $12,500 as the second place winner, in addition to several other prizes too like the complete reference library and works from both Merriam-Webster and Encylopedia Britannica.

Last year, only one Indian American kid, Prateek Kohli, then 13, an eighth-grader from New York, entered the final round. But he was felled by the word 'oberek', spelling it 'oberok.'

This year, there were four Indian American children among the final 12 contestants from the record number of 288 regional champions. The participants converged on Washington, DC and participated over two days at the Independence Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Eight-year-old Sriram Jagdeesh Hathwar, from Painted Post, New York, was the youngest contestant in the history of the Bee. However, the second-grader at the Chemung Valley Monstessori School met his waterloo early in the competition.

Image: Sameer Mishra of West Lafayette, Indiana, holds up the trophy after he won the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Photographs: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Also read: Indian Kids Rule!

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