Twelve Indian American students have entered the championship rounds of the prestigious 78th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee competition.
They are among the 51 contestants who will take part in the final rounds in Washington on Thursday. The children between the ages of 9 and 14 advanced after four gruelling rounds, including a written one.
The contestants who advanced include Anurag Kashyap and Aliya Deri from California, Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan from Colorado, Ashwini A Gokhale and Bonny Jain from Illionois, Sahiti Surapaneni from Massachusetts, Rajiv Tarigopula from Missouri, Arjun R Modi from New Jersey, Saptarshi Chaudhuri from Ohio, Nikhil B Koganti, Samir Sudhir Patel and Nidharshan S Anandasivam from Texas.
Each speller wins at least $50. The champion gets $28,000 in cash, scholarships and bonds, and books from Encyclopedia Britannica.
The amount is around $10,000 more than last year.
Indian American children have doen very well in the Spelling Bee competition over the years. Balu Natraj became
the first Indian American champion in 1985, followed by Rageshree Ramachandran in 1988, and later by Nupur Lala in 1999, George Thampy in 2000, Pratyush Buddiga in 2002 and Sai R Gunturi in 2003.
To reach the national competition, these students have to win their school and county bees before emerging victorious at the regional bee, which is sponsored by local newspapers.
The winner will appear on TV programmes and, if past years are a guide, meet US President George W Bush.