EDISON, NEW JERSEY – Indian American teenager Sravanth Malla, 13, of Haverstraw, New York, won the 10th National South Asian Spelling Bee on Friday, August 4 in Edison, New Jersey.
“I am going to save the money for college,” he said with a huge grin on his face, asked by News India Times, to reveal what he plans to do with his winnings of $3,000.
“I feel ecstatic. I always dreamed of this moment and never imagined it would really come true,” he added, saying that the Spelling Bee is really a competition against the dictionary and not other spellers.
His sister, Sanjana Malla, who participated in the Spelling Bee for five years, was really proud of her brother because she didn’t win any of them though she did win third place once.
“Every year we go through the same thing, same tension,” said Rama Malla, Sravanth’s father who made the lists and quizzed him to prepare for the Spelling Bee.
Sreeniketh Vogoti, 14, of St. Johns, Florida came in at second place and Navneeth Murali, 11, of Torrance, California came in at third place.
It was a tough competition between 17 finalists that lasted for about two and a half hours with the winning word being chytridiales, which means an order of simple, aquatic fungi of the phylum Chytridiomycota.
The youngest speller, Aarana Tailor, 7, of Accra, Ghana was happy that she had made it to the finals since this was her first time in the Spelling Bee.
Most of the kids said that they read, made lists and learned roots in order to prepare for the Spelling Bee.
“I read a lot of books and made note of the words that I found and I read online lists,” said Sujata Choudhury, 10, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey who was in it to win it.
“I used the app; Quizlet,” said Nidhi Achanta, 11, of Seattle, Washington, who was participating in the Spelling Bee for the first time. However, she said she was not anticipating to win and instead was there just to have fun.
For most of these kids, it was their second year participating in the South Asian Spelling Bee like Anmol Dash, 13, of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, who was also in it to win it and Malav Daftary, 13, also of Accra, Ghana who was there to have fun as well.
Siyona Mishra, 13, and winner of last year’s South Asian Spelling Bee told News India Times she felt amazed to be back after visiting the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Mishra had participated in the South Asian Spelling Bee four times and had finally won last year by spelling the word Zubrowka correctly.
“So I have been spelling here since 2012. So I participated in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and then ever since then we have been coming back to volunteer and meet former spellers. So the thing with the South Asian Spelling Bee is that there is a huge community here so there are a lot of spellers who spelled back like four, five years ago who keep coming back every year and so we come back every year just to see the new spellers and meet the old ones,” said Shobha Dasari who has been volunteering for two years.
Dasari herself has not won any of the Spelling Bees, though her brother Shourav did in 2015.
Others who participated in the South Asian Spelling Bee included: Nilla Rajan, 12, of Chillicothe, Ohio; Snehal Choudhury, 12, of Carrollton, Georgia; Shaheer Imam, 13, of Catonsville, Maryland; Aryan Nindra, 8, of Leesburg, Virginia; Kyu-Carlo Alegre, 12, also of Arrollton, Georgia; Abhilash Patel, 9, of Harriman, New York; Vayun Krishna, 10, of Sunnyvale, California; Pranav Chemudupaty, 13, of Pearland, Texas and Abhijay Kodali, 10, of Highland Village, Texas.