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Will A Desi Kid Win 2022 Spelling Bee?

By ABHIJIT MASIH
May 09, 2022 18:24 IST
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Unlike earlier years, an Indian-American child did not win America's Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2021.
234 spellers, many of them Indian-American kids, will participate in the 2022 Bee to be held from May 31 to June 2.

IMAGE: Eight Co-Winners of the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee contest: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and Rohan Raja. All photographs: Kind courtesy Scripps National Spelling Bee/Instagram

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will welcome 234 spellers to National Harbor, Maryland, from May 31-June 2 for the national rounds of the competition and the first fully in-person Bee since 2019.

The competitors advanced through local and regional bees that took place in April.

The preliminaries are on May 31, the quarterfinals and semifinals on June 1 and the finals on June 2.

The semifinals and finals will be hosted by accomplished actor, director, educator and life-long children's literacy advocate LeVar Burton.

 

IMAGE: Chaitra Thummala from Frisco, Texas, was placed second at the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Last year, surprisingly the winner was not an Indian-American child. This year, as is the case each year, there are many Indian-American contenders from nearly every state.

There is Deetya Vuppala from Seattle, Washington; Surya Kapu from Salt Lake City, Utah; Akash Vukoti from San Angelo, Texas; Sahasrad Sathish from Grayslake Illinois; Ishan Ramrakhiani from Raonoke, Indiana; Naresh Ram from Naples, Florida; Achyut Ethiraj from Fort Wayne, Indiana; Vikrant Chintanaboina from San Jose, California'; Tejas Raman from Boulder, Colorado; Ananya Augustine from Tucker, Georgia; Sahil Thorat from Shreveport, Louisiana... the list goes on.

Highlights of the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee field:

  • Four countries are represented in addition to the US: The Bahamas, Canada, Germany and Ghana. There are also spellers from the US Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.
  • The national qualifiers range in age from 7 to 15.
  • 45 have previously competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • 23 have relatives who are former national competitors.
  • Four were finalists in 2021, including three who tied for fourth place.
  • The champion will receive a $50,000 cash prize.

The 2022 competition marks a return to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington, DC.

The Bee was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in a mostly virtual format in 2021.

The 2021 finals, which featured 11 spellers, were held in person at the ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando in order to facilitate pandemic-related safety protocols.

Zaila Avant-garde was the 2021 champion, becoming the first African American child to win the Bee.

'The 2022 national competitors represent a diverse group of dedicated, hardworking and perseverant students,' said Dr J Michael Durnil, executive director, Scripps National Spelling Bee.

'As they prepare for their moment at the microphone, the Bee is working to make the whole week an unforgettable experience for them -- both on and offstage,' Dr Durnhil added.

'This year, our spellers will participate in brand-new Bee Week opportunities that ignite their curiosity and help them connect with the world around them -- central pieces of the Bee's commitment to illuminate pathways to lifelong learning. We hope to make it a once-in-a-lifetime moment for every student who attends,' Dr Durnil stated.

Spellers will have the chance to participate in experiences ranging from activities that inspire fun and relaxation outside of the competition to workshops focused on STEM and the arts.

The week will include a group mural-painting opportunity, Minecraft coding academy, coding virtual reality camp, creative writing workshop, DC-area tours and a book-based team challenge in partnership with the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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ABHIJIT MASIH