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Friday, June 3, 2011

Sukanya Roy crowned in Scripps National Spelling Bee 2011

Gladiolus, luxuriance, deteriorating, meticulosity, crustaceology, catamaran, interlocutory, demarche, laodicean, stromuhr and cymotrichous  - can you group these words or say what brackets them together ??

It is a contest conducted with the purpose of helping the students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.  Interestingly, it is stated that the common interest among spellers is music. Many play instruments including the violin, guitar, flute and saxophone, but the most popular among spellers is the piano. This year 85 spellers are pianists.

This year’s competition started on May 31, 2011.  There were 275 contestants.  All of them took the  written 25-word Round One Test during the Assembly.  They sat in assigned seats at tables in the center front section of the Maryland Ballroom and all other individuals sit in unreserved seats on a first-come, first-served basis.  The pronouncer was  Dr. Jacques Bailly who  recited the first word, followed by any alternate pronunciations, the part of speech, origin, definition and its use in a sentence. The words were repeated as also the information, a pause of 30 seconds, the next word was on.  After all the 25, each words were recited once in from 1 to 25 with no word information. Each word is worth one point and all 25 spellings will count toward each speller's Preliminaries score. That marked the initial round of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.    The requirement criteria, inter-alia was :  
           The speller must not have won a Scripps National Spelling Bee championship in Washington, D.C.
           The speller must attend a school that is officially enrolled with the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
           The speller must not have passed beyond the eighth grade on or before February 1, 2011.
           The speller must not have earned the legal equivalent of a high school diploma.
           The speller must not have reached his/her 15th birthday on or before August 31, 2010.

Spelling Bee : The 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee was held from May 31 - June 2, 2011 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland near Washington, D.C.    Historically the word bee has been used to describe a get-together where a specific action is being carried out, like a husking bee, a quilting bee, or an apple bee.  A bee, as used in quilting bee, working bee or spelling bee, is an expression used together with another word to describe a gathering of peers to accomplish a task or to hold a competition. Spelling bee is a competition where contestants, usually children, are asked to spell English words.  Though held in many countries, the one of US is considered the pioneer and most famous.  It dates back to 1925, when  Frank Neuhauser, then 11 years old, won the 1st National Spelling Bee, in Washington, D.C.  The Scripps National Spelling Bee (formerly the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee and commonly called the National Spelling Bee) is a highly competitive annual spelling bee in the United States, with participants from other countries as well. It is run on a not-for-profit basis by The E. W. Scripps Company.  Participants from countries other than the United States must be regional spelling-bee winners as well. Since 1994, ESPN has televised the later rounds of the bee; since 2006, earlier rounds have aired on the cable channel during the day, and the Championship Finals have aired in primetime on ABC.

Indian American kids have been ascending the throne time and again.  This year it is Sukanya Roy who correctly spelt the tongue-twister ''cymotrichous'' to be crowned the new champion.  She is a  Class 8 student of Pennsylvania''s Abington Heights Middle School.  She  had earlier participated in the 2009 and 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bees, tying for 12th place in 2009 and 20th place in 2010. This is the fourth year in succession and ninth time in 13 years that an Indian American has been declared a Spelling Bee champion, reflecting the dominance of the community students in the competition.

275 spellers participated in this year's competition, representing the United States, American Samoa, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Europe (DoDDS schools only), Ghana, Guam, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The competition lasted twenty rounds before the winner was announced.  Laura Newcombe, of Toronto, Ontario, was the runner-up. She was eliminated by the word sorites.  Joanna Ye, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Arvind Mahankali, of Forest Hills, New York, tied for third place.

Unlikely that we would ever have heard of the word ''cymotrichous'' – it has its origin in Greek  and the adjective means ‘having wavy hair’ - Greek kuma 'wave' + trich- 'hair' + + -ous.
Sukanya Roy speaks Bengali and every summer travels to India to visit family. She hopes to pursue a career in international relations.  The winner will be awarded a $30,000 cash prize, a trophy, a $2,500 US savings bond, a complete reference library, a $5,000 scholarship and $2,600 in reference works and other prizes. Roy was one of the six Indian Americans - Sriram Hathwar, Arvind Mahankali, Prakash Mishra, Mashad Arora, and Dhivya Senthil Murugan - who made it to the last 13 in the finals. The youngest finalist was 10-year-old Dhivya Murugan of Denver, who was born in India.

Hats off to Sukanya as also to the other children including Sriram Hathwar, Arvind Mahankali, Prakash Mishra, Mashad Arora, and Dhivya Senthil Murugan.  By any standards, this appears to be extraordinarily tough.
The words at the start  are the winning words of the Champions at various years;  the words correctly spelt by this year’s winner include : croissant, execration, amphystylar, psephomancy, sangsue…………… now you know why she was able to win !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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