Dukkipati and Jain compete in State Spelling Bee

Posted on 04/11/2018
Dukkipati and Jain compete in State Spelling Bee

Spelling bees are a rite of passage for elementary and middle school students, an opportunity to put the vocabulary and English language skills of students to the test. Spellers spend countless hours preparing and practicing before walking up to the microphone to receive their word.

Two FHSD students won the right to compete at the annual St. Louis Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee on March 17 at McKendree University. Rishabh Jain, of John Weldon Elementary School, and Abhinav Dukkipati, of Francis Howell Middle School, competed with hopes of moving on to the national level. Out of 49 competitors, Dukkipati made it to the final five. With over 60,000 national entrants, only state finalists can proceed to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Rishabh Jain competes during the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's 31st Spelling Bee.Spelling bee participants often study for months in advance. Scripps releases word and reading lists in mid-November. The spelling words are different at each grade level and spellers are encouraged to learn not only the 100 words in their level but also all words on the first through eighth grade list. Words range from “nodded” and “pilot” at the first grade level to “rhododendron” and “uncoquettish” for eighth grade competitors.

The Post-Dispatch runs a help section called Spell Check from November through January. These word games provide additional study materials for words of different language backgrounds, including Greek, Arabic, Old English, and many others. Schools are responsible for determining their finalists and do so by offering classroom-level and school-wide spelling contests.

Students that win at the building level then take a written exam (an online version of the written exam is available on Scripps website). Out of the 500 students who take the written version, only 49 progress on to the verbal bee. During the spelling bee, students can only ask for the definition of the word, have the word used in a sentence, the origin of the word, and the pronunciation.

Spelling bees help promote literacy, increase vocabulary, and develop correct usage of the English language that will help spellers for their entire life. Many Scripps National winners have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, Pulitzer prize winning journalists, and more.

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