Aditi Muthukumar wielded such powerful prowess that she defeated the nation’s second-best speller in March’s Colorado State Spelling Bee, partly because of an innate desire to win and partly because the girl’s parents 12-year-old promised her a cat if she won. .
Welcome home, kitty.
After a daunting five-hour, 53-round spelling bee – the final half-volley between Westminster’s Aditi and Aurora’s Vikram Raju, who finished second in the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year – Aditi claimed victory in correctly spelling “hylozoism”.
“It was so surreal,” she said of the Denver Post-sponsored state bee victory. “I was hoping to win, but I didn’t expect to win.”
Seventh-grader at Hulstrom Options K-8 School joins Boulder Valley School District Regional Spelling Bee winner Sofia Tommey Wu as two students who will represent Colorado among 231 spellers vying to win the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee, which runs May 30 through June 1.
Former Colorado spelling pros earned their place in the national competition with the help of spelling coaches or homeschooling schedules that took their studies to the extreme. Aditi and Sofia came by their word nerdiness naturally.
For 10-year-old Sofia, handling words is a family affair.
Sofia’s mother, Rita Wu, was a contestant on the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1998. Wu said her teenage spelling career was largely driven by pressure from her parents, so she’s careful to keep spelling an activity. at low pressure that Sofia does because she wants to.
“You have to make sure you really want to do it or it won’t be fun,” said Sofia, a fifth-grader at Douglass Elementary School in Boulder who also loves swimming. “And if you really want to, you can probably work where you want to go because you’re going to work so hard for it.”
Mom and daughter spend time studying together and are still processing Sofia’s win at the Boulder bee – champ word: ‘dissonance’ – and the upcoming trip to the nation’s capital for the nationally televised Scripps competition .
Sofia skipped a grade, so she enters the competition young, Wu said, and her family is incredibly proud.
“I feel like maybe I haven’t got it all figured out yet,” Sofia said. “I still don’t really believe I’m going, but I’m really excited because it looks like fun. I’m really, really nervous, though.
For Aditi, the perfectionism required to be a spelling whiz has seeped into other aspects of his life.
Her bedroom also serves as a sanctuary to the medals, trophies and plaques she has accumulated over the years. In kindergarten, Aditi won Best Handwriting in the State. She earned honors in math and merits in reading, and competed in cybersecurity competitions. She performs classical Indian dance, volunteers through the National Junior Honor Society, is a member of her school’s robotics club, and serves as student body vice president.
In her spare time, Aditi writes a science fiction book.
“Academics are so important to me,” Aditi said. “My friends tease me about being a real nerd, but it feels good to be a successful person and to know that it all leads to going to an Ivy League college and getting a job. steady.”
Aditi is an aspiring geneticist with goals like curing diseases and developing vaccines on her to-do list.
For now, she is studying root words and vocabulary.
While Aditi had her study beforehand with deep dives into a Merriam-Webster dictionary bigger than her head, she has now found a spelling coach whom she will meet virtually as she approaches the big bee.
Neither student has graced the stage at the national competition before; both said they were anxious but excited to see what it was all about.
The Colorado contingent has something else in common: a love for the Harry Potter series.
The girls and their families — and Liz, Sofia’s lucky stuffed octopus — will travel to bee week in the Washington, DC area, where spellers from all over the country will converge.
“In the meantime, I will study, eat, sleep and rehearse,” Aditi said.
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