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Nine Indian American Kids Among 11 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists

Nine Indian American Kids Among 11 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists

The nine Indian American finalists will compete in the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals on July 8. Seen above are five of the finalists (left to right): Bhavana Madini, Sreethan Gajula, Ashrita Gandhari, Avani Joshi, Vivinsha Veduru. (spellingbee.com photos)

India-West Staff Reporter

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are set, with nine Indian American kids among the 11 finalists announced by the E.W. Scripps Company.

Scripps June 28 in a news release said the 11 spellers skillfully advanced through all virtual rounds of the national competition, and will next compete for the champion title during the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals on July 8.

Among the spellers competing in the finals are Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York; Sreethan Gajula, 14, from Charlotte, North Carolina; Ashrita Gandhari, 14, from Leesburg, Virginia; Avani Joshi, 13, from Loves Park, Illinois; Vivinsha Veduru, 10, from Fort Worth, Texas; Dhroov Bharatia, 12, from Dallas, Texas; Vihaan Sibal, 12, from Waco, Texas; Akshainie Kamma, 13, from Austin, Texas; and Chaitra Thummala, 12, from San Francisco, California.

Also competing are Roy Seligman, 12, from Nassau, The Bahamas, and Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from New Orleans, Louisiana.

On their path to the finals, the 2021 finalists advanced successfully through three levels of virtual competition this year: the preliminaries on June 12; the quarterfinals on June 15; and the semifinals on June 27, the news release said.

The competition’s virtual semifinals saw the 30 remaining spellers compete in a suspenseful three rounds — two spelling rounds and a word meaning round.

“We are honored to introduce our 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee finalists. Round after round, this group of spellers proved their mettle, and we look forward to seeing them show off their knowledge and hard work as they square off against the dictionary on the national stage,” Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Bee, said in a statement. “Congratulations to all of this year’s 209 national qualifiers – they’ve persevered over a year that has been challenging in many ways, and our team is proud to have witnessed their journey.”

During the in-person finals on July 8, the Bee will have the option of activating a spell-off if needed. The spell-off would be activated in the closing minutes of the competition if a champion has not yet been declared in a traditional, one-person, one-word round, the release noted.

The final rounds of this year’s Bee will be hosted in person at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, and will be broadcast live in prime time on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion will receive a $50,000 cash prize; a commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee; a $2,500 cash prize and reference library from the Bee’s dictionary partner Merriam-Webster; and $400 of reference works, including a 1768 Encyclopedia Britannica Replica Set and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

As the country continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and communities and industries update associated guidelines, the in-person portion of the competition at ESPN Wide World of Sports will not be open to spectators, the release said.

Spellers and Bee officials will follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing. Scripps also has consulted on COVID-19-related health and safety protocol with medical experts at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to facilitate a responsible experience for all, it said.

To ensure equal access to the virtual elements of the 2021 national competition, the Bee used a technology vendor to create a level playing field and virtual competition space beginning with the preliminaries. Spellers received laptops provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and a proctor was onsite with each of them, Scripps added.

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