Wednesday , December 11 2019
Home | U.S. | Ten extraordinary spellers move to the National Spelling Bee finals

Ten extraordinary spellers move to the National Spelling Bee finals

So you think you’re a good speller? You probably don’t have anything on these kids.

There are 10 finalists left competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The semifinalists participated in two rounds of spelling real words that most people don’t know the meanings of Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor, Md.

The 10 finalists really shined, while 27 others failed to spell obscure words and lost the chance to win the coveted spelling bee title and $30,000 cash prize. The 10 contestants that conquered words such as valuta (available foreign exchange) and vernissage (opening day of an art exhibit) will move onto the final round which begins at 8 p.m. Thursday night. The winners were determined by their scores in the six preliminary rounds.

The kids that will continue on in the competition are 14-year-old Cole Shafer-Ray of Norman Okla., 11-year-old Siyona Mishra of Orlando, Miss., 12-year-old Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Va., 12-year-old Snehaa Ganesh Kumar of Folsom, Calif., 14-year-old Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Mo., 12-year-old Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood, Colo., 13-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kan., 13-year-old Siddharth Krishnakumar of Pearland, Tex., 14-year-old Paul Keaton of Pikeville, Ky. and 13-year-old Dev Jaiswal of Louisville.  NBC News reported that Dev Jaiswal held the No. 1 spot after the semifinals Thursday.

According to Washington Post, seven of the 10 kids left in the competition are of South Asian descent. They have been commanding the competition the last few years.

Some of the finalists are spelling bee veterans. For instance, Gokul Venkatachalam came in third last year and Vanya Shivashankar is competing for the fifth time. Her sister won the spelling bee in 2009. If Vanya wins, they will be the first siblings to both win the title.

Vanya told NBC affiliate KSHB that she had studied “a lot of words.” She also said that one of her favorite words, and the longest word in the dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. This is a lung disease caused by silica dust.

You might guess that words such as this one stump the contestants most often. However, it seems like the less intimidating, short words are the common brain busters.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there have been 229 words in the championship since 2011. Of those 229 words, roughly 81% of them have been spelled correctly. Their length averaged 9.2 letters. And it seems that 7-letter words have been the most difficult to spell.

Some of those include words such as ridotto, rougeot and zenaida. Don’t know these words? Don’t feel bad. Even spell check is struggling with them.

The competition began with 300 contestants who came from more than 11 million spellers from eight countries and all 50 U.S. states, District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Defense Department schools, as reported by Reuters. And now there are ten.

Who will win the title? We will just have to wait and s-e-e.


About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as, and Contact Meredith: