Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Awards Banquet and Dance Party

The morning after Finals, spellers had the opportunity to explore D.C. Thanks to Congressman John Yarmuth, my family received a visitor’s pass to the White House! I enjoyed walking through the rooms of the White House and especially seeing the portraits of former Presidents and First Ladies. We were also treated to a personalized tour of the Capitol Building by Walker Robinson of Congressman Yarmuth’s office. He was a fabulous guide and we all learned so much from him.  It was particularly interesting to learn that each State has donated two statues of notable people from their history. Kentucky’s statues are of Henry Clay and Ephraim McDowell. Visiting the White House was a highlight of my trip to D.C. and I want to thank Congressman Yarmuth and his staff for making this possible.

In the evening, we attended a fancy Awards Banquet at which we honored the top ten finalists. Afterwards, we all went to the Woodrow Wilson Ballroom for a dance party; this was my favorite event of the week.

Participating in the National Spelling Bee for the third time was an amazing experience. Becoming a national finalist was the proudest moment of my life. I tied for 22nd place, which is my highest rank ever. I made new friends and rekindled old bonds. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who share my love of words. Thanks so much to WHAS-TV for sponsoring the Regional Bee in Louisville; it was an honor to represent Kentucky at the National Bee.

Congratulations to all the spellers who participated in the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee; you’re all winners!

Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Co-Champions are declared…again!


Congratulations to Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga, co-champions of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee!!!

This is the third year in a row that co-champions have been declared. Jairam is a thirteen year old seventh grader from New York and is the brother of Sriram Hathwar, the 2014 co-champion. Nihar Janga is an eleven year old fifth grader from Texas. Nihar made history tonight, becoming the youngest ever to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Jairam’s championship word was feldenkrais and Nihar’s championship word was gesellschaft. Feldenkrais, a trademark, is a system of aided body movements intended to increase body awareness and ease tension. Gesellschaft is a rationally developed mechanistic type of social relationship characterized by impersonally contracted associations between persons.



Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Finals (Part 1)

The Finals started this morning at 10:00 a.m. and were broadcasted on ESPN2. 45 spellers took the stage until only 10 were left. Round 4 was grueling and the bell was rung many times. Unfortunately, I was eliminated in Round 4 for incorrectly spelling bakshaish, an antique Persian rug with angular designs. Oecophorid, salele, tibourbou, zwitterion, bouleuterion, and jacopever were some of the other words included in Round 4.

Round 5 began with 21 spellers. Some especially difficult words in Round 5 were ocypode, Liechtenstein, noncompos, Nabokovian, glaucothoe, and pochoir. By the end of the round, only 17 spellers remained.

Not very many spellers were eliminated in Round 6, but caliginous, pesante, and monture were troublesome and eliminated 3 spellers. Round 7 started with 14 spellers. The most difficult words in this round were quinton, duliasomma, and campagnol.

Tonight at 8:00 p.m., the top ten spellers will compete live on ESPN until a champion is declared. Good luck to all of the remaining finalists!

Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Rounds 2 and 3

This morning, Round 2 of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee commenced. The round started with 284 spellers. Unfortunately, a total of 34 spellers missed their words and were eliminated from the competition. Round 3 started with 251 spellers and saw 80 spellers eliminated. Unlike past years in which a study list was provided for Rounds 2 and 3, this year the only source of words for Round 3 was Webster’s Third Unabridged Dictionary.

In Round 2, I spelled lenticula correctly and was able to move on to Round 3, in which I spelled the word felicific. I certainly felt very felicific when Dr. Bailly told me I had spelled the word correctly!

Up to fifty spellers with the highest scores through Round 3 move onto the Finals which occur tomorrow morning and end in the evening. I am proud to announce that I am one of the 45 Finalists competing tomorrow morning!   I received a beautiful medal and I am just so thrilled to be a Finalist representing my home state of Kentucky. Please see for the broadcasting schedule.

Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Round 1

This morning, all 285 spellers sat for the preliminary written exam; this is Round 1 of the Bee. There were 12 spelling words worth one point each and 12 vocabulary words also worth one point each. There were an additional two vocabulary words worth 3 points each – one of these words came from a study list provided by the Bee while the other one came from the dictionary. The total number of points that can be accrued in Round 1 is 30.

The onstage rounds start tomorrow morning; each of the words in Round 2 and Round 3 is worth 3 points each. Of course, if a speller misses onstage, he/she is eliminated from the competition. Up to fifty spellers with the most number of points after Round 3 move on to the Finals which are on Thursday morning and evening. Finalists will be announced after Round 3 tomorrow afternoon!

This evening, all the spellers will be treated to a viewing of the top five videos of the Spellebrity Video Contest. The videos were created by some talented young filmmakers with the theme of encouraging kids to read more.

Addendum: If you would like to test your spelling and vocabulary skills, take the test!



Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – The National Zoo and Opening Ceremony

Spellers and their families enjoyed a fabulous barbecue at the National Zoo today. There were a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy, such as hula-hooping and dancing. Caricature artists and face-painters were on hand this year as well! Of course, we could also roam around the beautiful zoo at our leisure and enjoy all of the wonderful animals. This was a great opportunity to socialize with the other spellers and collect more autographs in my Bee Keeper.

This evening all the spellers attended a grand Opening Ceremony.  We were introduced to Scripps Spelling Bee staff, volunteers, and Bee officials including the pronouncer, Dr. Jacques Bailly, and the head judge, Mrs. Mary Brooks. Tomorrow is the first official day of competition; it begins in the morning with the preliminary written exam (Round 1). On Wednesday, Round 2 and Round 3 will take place on stage and will be live streamed on ESPN3. If you are interested in watching Rounds 2 and 3, please go to for the broadcasting schedule.

Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee – The Journey Begins

This morning, my family and I departed from Louisville, Kentucky and arrived in Washington D.C.

The main event today was a Spellebrity Welcome and speller orientation. This was my first opportunity to meet the other amazing spellers and it was so exciting! My favorite part was when I received my Bee Keeper, a picture book with interesting facts about each of the spellers. I am determined to get every speller’s autograph in my Bee Keeper this year!

Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee

For the last couple of months, I have spent every spare moment studying for the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee. I’m really excited to be returning to Washington D.C. for the third time to compete at the national level.

Last year, I wrote a series of posts detailing Bee Week and my personal experience and I would love to do the same this year. I hope you all enjoy reading my Insider’s Guide to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee! The journey begins tomorrow when we depart from Louisville, Kentucky to Washington, D.C.