Skip to comments.Eighth Grader Wins National Spelling Bee
Posted on 05/29/2003 4:14:01 PM PDT by Momaw Nadon
WASHINGTON - A 13-year-old eighth-grader from Dallas nailed "pococurante" to win the 76th Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee on Thursday.
It was Sai Gunturi's fourth time in the competition.
"I studied it," a beaming Sai said of the word after winning the contest, $12,000 and other prizes. "That's why I was kind of laughing." The word means indifferent or nonchalant.
Sai plays the violin and studies Indian classical music. His father, Sarma, is a chemical engineer and his mother, Lakshmi, is a homemaker.
Last year, Sai tied for seventh place. He tied for 16th place in 2001 and tied for 32nd place in 2000. His sister, Nivedita, tied for eighth place in 1997.
"Actually, I started studying in fourth grade and then I guess it's kind of like cumulative study all the way up to here," he said after surviving the grueling, 15-round contest by spelling such words as "rhathymia," "dipnoous" and "voussoir."
Evelyn Blacklock, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who is home-schooled in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., was the runner-up.
Earlier Thursday, Evelyn not only had to spell one of her words, but got to fully experience its meaning.
She stepped to the microphone at the sound of "tenebrosity," which means darkness, and began to question the announcer about its meaning and origins.
An unspoken answer came when the stage mysteriously went dark.
Unfazed, Evelyn lifted the numbered yellow square hanging from her neck and scribbled on the back of it with her finger before spelling, slowly and correctly, as the hotel ballroom's lights crept back on.
She later agonized over "anaphylaxis," a hypersensitivity caused by contact with a sensitizing agent, and "ganache," a sweet chocolate mixture used in baking, to advance another round.
The cable sports network ESPN provided live coverage.
In taped remarks, Education Secretary Rod Paige congratulated the 84 competitors who were still standing when the competition resumed Thursday, telling them they should be proud of making it to the finals.
"No matter whether you go out in the first round or become the next champ, your presence here spells only one thing," Paige said, then added: "S-u-c-c-e-s-s, success."
Jane Warunek, a 12-year-old eighth-grader in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., got a second chance after appealing her exit in the third round because she gave an alternate spelling of "diaconate." She later succumbed by misspelling "cernuous," which means drooping.
Some students moved closer to the final round by conquering such mouthfuls as "fissiparous," "platyhelminth" and "matripotestal."
Others drew the clang of the judge's bell after getting a word wrong. Among the stumpers were "preterlabent," "filipendulous" and "escheator."
There were plenty sighs of relief, high-fives and clenched fists jabbed into the air by the students who spelled correctly, and frowns and shrugs by those who were escorted off stage after their errors.
The event opened Wednesday with a field of 251 youngsters, ranging in age from 8 to 15. Each got one word to spell; 175 got them right.
Next came a written spelling test, introduced last year as a way to speed up the contest but ensure that every student gets at least once chance at the microphone. This year's bee is the largest ever, and spellers now tend to take more time before answering.
The exam narrowed the field to 84, who made the cut by missing 10 words or fewer.
Last year, it took 11 rounds to declare a winner, but that number has varied widely over the past decade. In 1997, victory came in the 23rd round.
It was the social environment that was not suitable for my daughter.
Grade Total Tuition
I noticed that the winner's mother was a stay-at-home mother. I wonder how many of the past winners had a stay-at-home parent who was there to encourage them to focus on their studies and keep them out of trouble.
Youch! One of my son's classmates (small private school) was the winner from Hawaii last year, made it to the nationals but not to the final round. We get off cheap at around $5000/year, even with Hawaii's higher cost of living.
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