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Thursday, May. 28, 2009

Can you spell Champion

Kavya wins 2009 National Spelling Bee

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It was the cream of the crop.

Eleven of the top spellers tonight competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the Grand Hyatt ballroom in Washington, D.C.

But one 13-year-old girl, Kavya Shivashankar from Olathe, out shined the competition.

She spelled her way through 16 rounds to win the 2009 trophy.

Before the championship finals, Kavya said rather than compete against each other, she competes against the dictionary. She did that perfectly.

Her words in the finals: Hydrargyrum (round seven); blancmange (round eight); baignoire (round nine); huisache (round 10); ecossaise (round 11); diacoele (round 12); bouquiniste (round 13, championship words list); isagoge (round 14); phoresy (round 15); Laodicean (word to spell correctly for the win).

Kavya faced stiff competition, but when Sidharth Chand, who had been picked along with Kavya to win this year, went out in the eighth round, it looked as though it was Kavya’s Bee to lose.

Tim Ruiter and Aishwarya Pastapur stayed in the competition until the 15th round, when each one misspelled a word. All Kavya had to do was spell one word, “Laodicean" (of or relating to Laodicea; or indifferent or lukewarm, especially in matters of religion) to win and receive the large gold trophy.

Kavya’s prime-time championship – it aired live on ABC – netted her a $30,000 scholarship and engraved trophy from Scripps, a $2,500 savings bond and reference library from Merriam-Webster, a $5,000 scholarship from Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, $2,800 in reference works and the Britannica Test Prep Precocious Program, valued at $799, from Encyclopedia Britannica.

Kavya's win was a perfect ending to her spelling career. She first won the Olathe school district spelling bee, sponsored by The Olathe News, as a 10 year old. She went on to the national bee and took 10th place. The following year she tied for eighth, and last year, Kavya tied for fourth place.

Because she will enter the ninth grade in August at California Trail Junior High School, this was her final chance to win the Bee. She will now spend another week in Washington, D.C., making appearances and doing interviews before heading home, adding her name to the list of people and teams that have made Olathe a City of Champions. But she is the first Olathe speller to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

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