Baker-Butler’s Vihaan Rastogi & Henley’s Saurish Srimath Tirumala Are Spelling Bee Champions; Six Students Will Compete in Regional Bee

Baker-Butler’s Vihaan Rastogi & Henley’s Saurish Srimath Tirumala Are Spelling Bee Champions; Six Students Will Compete in Regional Bee

It took more than a dozen rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings this week, as well as the participation of thousands of elementary and middle school students over the past few months, but the school division has crowned two Spelling Bee champions who will represent Albemarle County Public Schools in the next stop on the road to the national bee in Maryland. This was the 17th year of division-wide competition.

Vihaan Rastogi from Baker-Butler Elementary School and Saurish Srimath Tirumala from Henley Middle School are the two new champions. They will be joined by the second- and third-place winners in each of this week’s divisional spelling bees at the Central Virginia Regional Spelling Bee, which will be held at Albemarle High School on March 11. The winner of the regional bee, which will include champions from eight other public school divisions and seven private schools, will qualify for the National Spelling Bee on May 31 – June 2 at Maryland’s National Harbor.

Elementary Bee Winners: Hanna Belander (3rd); Graysen Wickline (2nd); and Vihaan Rastogi (1st)

Elementary School Spelling Bee Winners (from left): Hanna Belander (3rd place); Graysen Wickline (2nd place); and Vihaan Rastogi (1st place)

Middle School Bee Winners: Audrey Ishler (2nd); Saurish Srimath (1st); and Elis Worley (3rd)

Middle School Spelling Bee Winners (from left): Audrey Ishler (2nd place); Saurish Srimath (1st place); and Elis Worley (3rd place)

Stone-Robinson’s Graysen Wickline and Broadus Wood’s Hanna Belander placed second and third in the elementary school bee. In the middle school bee, Audrey Ishler from Burley and Elis Worley from Walton were second and third.

Vihaan correctly spelled ammunition in the 14th round of the elementary school bee on Tuesday evening. Ballyhoo was the word that put Saurish over the top in the 13th round last evening to conclude the middle school bee.

“We are so proud of every one of our students who competed this week,” said Kimberly Gibson, lead coach for language arts for the division’s middle and high schools, joined by Andrea Blount, who fills the same role for the division’s elementary schools.

Speaking of the 21 students who represented their respective schools, the lead coaches pointed out that the students’ knowledge and interest in etymology prompted them to ask about and understand word derivations, definitions and context. “This enabled them to correctly spell new and challenging words, reflected in the number of rounds it took to complete the bee,” Gibson and Blount said.

Even in a sophisticated technological world, the educators pointed out, being able to master language construction and to use words effectively to communicate complex concepts are lifelong learning capabilities that are fundamental to both academic and career success.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, dating back to 1925. It promotes the bee as “inspiring the exploration of words, illuminating pathways to lifelong curiosity.” Each year, more than 11 million students participate in the competition.

E.W. Scripps, the local TV station owner that administers the spelling bee, will televise the national bee on two of its own platforms: ION and Bounce. The competition also will stream online.

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