Skip to comments.Spelling Bee Finalist Proves He's Far From Faint-Hearted
Posted on 06/04/2004 9:34:22 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick
WASHINGTON, June 3 Akshay Buddiga stood on stage hunched over a microphone, his clenched hands stuffed into his pockets. If he could spell "alopecoid," he would take another step on the way to becoming the second national spelling bee champion in his family.
He asked for the meaning of the word, then its origin. Buying a bit more time, he asked for its pronunciation. Then before he could get the "a" out, he fainted, collapsing at the feet of the other spellers.
No sooner had the audience let out a collective gasp than they let out a louder one as Akshay, 13, rose to his feet and, without hesitating, spoke into the microphone: a-l-o-p-e-c-o-i-d. The eighth-grader from Colorado Springs survived several more rounds no fainting those times to end up as one of the two finalists in the 77th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Trying to recover so he could finish those remaining rounds, Akshay spent most of his time in the comfort room, an area offstage where students who have been eliminated can regain their composure, deal with their loss or just get some cookies and a drink.
"It's just nervousness," said his mother, Rekha, her arm wrapped protectively around her son after the competition.
For 15 rounds, Akshay and the other finalist, survived the spelling of "lagniappe," "serpiginous," "ecdysis," and "foudroyant" until enthusiasm or rather, "schwarmerei," got the better of Akshay.
When the bell rang to signal that he was out, the audience gave a standing ovation for the boy who had himself had come to define the intensity of the competition.
Then the remaining student, David Scott Tidmarsh, from South Bend, Ind., also an eighth-grader, spelled "gaminerie" and then "autochthonous" meaning indigenous to claim the championship.
David, who began as one of nine million young people worldwide, and ended up as one of 256 spellers in the two-day competition in Washington, said he did not know what he would do with his winnings, but that he thought he would save most of it for college.
But the competition was not just about winning. One of the students, Snigdha Sur, 14, won the hearts of her fellow spellers. When she tripped up on "carnauba," nearly 20 spellers rushed to the door of the comfort room to be the first to get her autograph in their Bee Week Guide, a sort of yearbook for the week. Unlike many spellers who emerged from the comfort room, Snigdha was all smiles and said she knew that she had done her best. Her newfound friends proclaimed her one of the best spellers and her constant entourage attested to her popularity.
Born in Raipur, India, she is an eighth-grader who attends public school in New York, and has already passed the SAT's with a 1410 score. But she said she has broader interests beyond spelling, including the piano, flute, and volunteering at the public library.
As for the boy who fainted, Akshay Buddiga had come close to joining his brother, Pratyush, as the national spelling champion.
But Pratyush, who won in 2002, said he was proud of his brother for having worked for four years to get this far. And, he noted, even he did not know how to spell "schwarmerei," the word that finally eliminated Akshay.
Pratyush said that his little brother had felt a lot of pressure from the news media because he was the brother of a former winner. "I think he kind of lost his cool on that one word," he said
With a name like that no wonder he is a good speler.
These are supposed to be English words ???
On a side note, isn't "Buddiga buddiga buddiga" what DW says before each nascar race ? Oh, it's boogity ? Never mind.
Akshay aintedfay ...
I feel better now, since I scored 1420 on the SAT (though sadly my 8th grade score was only 1050).
They got the public skooler comment in...how many of the 256 were home schooled? Top 10?
What are those parents thinking?
... NY Public school system? Almost as bad as my Kaliforneeya Publik Edumacation.
There is no way a kid would know the meaning of some of those words and come from a public school. For one the teachers wouldn't know what the words meant, and secondly it would be anathema for a kid to know them in public schools (it is not exactly appropos to be bright there ....now, if you can burp the alphabet that is a plus).
The general site is http://www.spellingbee.com
The stats page is http://www.spellingbee.com/bwg/stats.shtml
I'm SHOCKED, SHOCKED, SHOCKED! I watched the spelling bee & noticed immediately the contestants on the whole didn't look like America. A quota needs to be established for next years contest so the left out kids don't feel bad.
So you watched it, eh? Nothing more exciting to do, or was your genius kid part of the proceedings ?
I saw that fainting episode on the news last night, and it looked more like a "dive" to me. He didn't so much faint as keel over.
Even in the worst schools, there are enough good teachers and resources that you can get a good education if you make an effort. I don't blame those teachers for their students' stupidity. The vast majority of kids at the grade schools and high schools I went to were from very poor families who didn't speak any English. I dare anyone to try an educate 35 of those kids. Studies have shown that it is kids from poor and/or non-english speaking families who are dragging down all the standardized test scores. Kids who give a damn and try are doing fine. It's just too fashionable to blame public schools when it's the kids and their parents who are the problems. I went to horrible public schools and was able to score a 1460. My high school's average was 880 that same year (and those were the kids who wanted to go to college).
There's a great documentary called Spellbound about the 1999 National Spelling Bee. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0334405/ It follows 8 families as they go to Washington DC for the finals. There are still plenty of people pursuing the American Dream.
I think you missed my, and I would guess others, point. It was not an indictment of each and every teacher in every public school in the country. It was an indictment of a failing system. You're right that educating children ultimately comes down to parents. And that is why socializing schools is not a solution...it provides an excuse for parents to abdicate.
The Senior Patrol Leader in our youngest son's Boy Scout troop is named Akshay. He's a very nice young man!
Inspirational. Makes we want to get out my Unabridged and look everything up, so I can use all those words next week.
(State spelling champion of Virginia, 1984)
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