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Top Speller in English to be Crowned at Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals

by Lucas Garcia
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spelling competition

Introduction

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is set to crown a champion, with 11 finalists gathering Thursday night in a convention center ballroom outside Washington to demonstrate their mastery of Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged dictionary.

Dedication and Skill of the Spellers

The bee has undergone many changes as a result of an eight-way tie in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, which wiped it out a year later. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the skill and dedication of the top spellers in the English language. The typical workload for a top-level speller includes 3-4 hours of studying each weekday, and more on the weekends. And yet they still find time to excel in other disciplines.

Impressive Achievements

14-year-old finalist Charlotte Walsh of Arlington, Virginia, just completed an Advanced Placement calculus course as an eighth-grader. The bee began in 1925 and is open to students through the eighth grade. Spellers qualify by winning regional bees around the country. There were 229 kids onstage at the beginning of this year’s competition.

Diversity of Finalists

Most of this year’s finalists are Indian American, continuing a trend that has lasted for two decades. Twenty-one of the past 23 champions have had South Asian heritage.

Prizes and Recognition

Thursday’s winner will receive more than $50,000 in cash and prizes. Champions typically go on a media tour and make a series of appearances throughout the year as the face of the bee. Many end up returning to the bee in other roles, including as part of Scripps’ word selection panel. Vanya Shivashankar, a 2015 co-champion, has been involved in the bee telecast ever since and this year was promoted to the role of master of ceremonies.

Eliminating Ties

The bee had co-champions from 2014 to 2016 before the “octo-champs” of 2019, but ties are impossible under the current rules. If the contest reaches the 1-hour, 55-minute mark without a winner, the remaining spellers will compete in a lightning-round tiebreaker.

Finalists and Notable Participants

  • Surya Kapu, a 14-year-old from South Jordan, Utah, is the only returning finalist. He finished tied for fifth last year.
  • The youngest remaining semifinalist is 11-year-old fifth-grader Sarah Fernandes of Omaha, Nebraska, who is four months younger than the youngest winner on record, Nihar Janga, a co-champion in 2016 at age 11.
  • Shradha Rachamreddy, a 13-year-old from San Jose, California, comes in with arguably the strongest spelling resume, having won several highly competitive online and in-person bees that spellers use to prep for Scripps. She’s one of four finalists from California, along with 14-year-old Vikrant Chintanaboina, also from San Jose; 12-year-old Dhruv Subramanian of San Ramon; and 14-year-old Arth Dalsania of Camarillo.
  • Other finalists include Dev Shah, Aryan Khedkar, Pranav Anandh, and Tarini Nandakumar.

Conclusion

The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals will showcase the impressive skills of the top spellers in the English language, with the winner earning recognition, prizes, and the title of the country’s best speller.

Q: How are the finalists selected for the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

A: The finalists for the Scripps National Spelling Bee are selected through regional spelling bees held around the country. Spellers who win their respective regional bees qualify to compete in the national bee.

Q: What is the typical workload for a top-level speller?

A: A top-level speller typically dedicates 3-4 hours of studying each weekday, with additional study time on weekends. Despite their rigorous spelling practice, many of these spellers also excel in other disciplines.

Q: How are ties handled in the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

A: Ties are no longer possible under the current rules of the bee. In the event that the contest reaches the 1-hour, 55-minute mark without a winner, the remaining spellers will compete in a lightning-round tiebreaker to determine the champion.

Q: What prizes and recognition do the winners receive?

A: The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee receives more than $50,000 in cash and prizes. They also go on a media tour and make appearances throughout the year as the face of the bee. Many winners continue to be involved with the bee in various roles, including the word selection panel.

Q: Is there a notable trend among the finalists’ ethnic backgrounds?

A: Yes, for the past two decades, a majority of the finalists and champions in the Scripps National Spelling Bee have had Indian American heritage. This trend has continued with most of this year’s finalists also having South Asian heritage.

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