Saketh Sundar, an eighth grader at Clarksville Middle School in Howard County, was crowned one of eight co-champions at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Taylor Swift said it best: “Hey, kids! Spelling is fun!”
After 20 rounds, going into the early hours Friday, eight spellers were named winners after Jacques Bailly, the spelling bee's official pronouncer, declared after round 17 that any speller left standing after the 20th round would be named a co-champion.
This year marked Saketh’s fourth consecutive year participating in the annual national bee. The 13-year-old tied for 19th last year, placed 12th in 2017 and 46th in 2016. For this year’s competition, Saketh was sponsored by the Howard County Library System.
In the final round of the 92nd spelling bee, Saketh correctly spelled “bougainvillea,” which means “any of a genus of the four-o'clock family of ornamental tropical American woody vines and shrubs with brilliant purple or red floral bracts,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
For the past eight months, 11 million students nationwide have been vying to compete for the coveted title. Last week, 565 spellers took the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Prince George’s County. Twenty students from Maryland competed in this year’s competition.
Five other Howard County and Laurel students participated in this year’s national bee. The other middle school students included Veer Tuliani, 12, a seventh grader at Folly Quarter Middle; 13-year-old Michael Kittredge, a seventh grader at Murray Hill Middle; Bonnie Branch Middle sixth grader Teresa Cherian, 12; Luke Suko, 13, an eighth grader at St. Louis School in Clarksville; and Kristin Millburn, an 11-year-old sixth grader at St. Mary of the Mills School in Laurel. All were sponsored by their schools for the competition.
Michael, Teresa and Kristin were eliminated in the third round after misspelling the words “emollience,” “prosody” and “erelong,” respectively.
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While Luke and Veer spelled their words correctly in the third round, they did not advance to the final day of the competition because they were not in the top 50. In the third round, Luke correctly spelled “epigrammatic” and Veer spelled “foible.”