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Teen Takes Home Spelling Bee Trophy

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July 2009
Teen Takes Home Spelling Bee Trophy

WINNER: Kavya Shivashankar

WHAT she won: 2009 Gold trophy, $30,000 cash, $5000 scholarship, $2500 savings bond, a set of Encyclopedia Britannica reference books.

WORD that decided contest: LAODICEAN. It’s a noun that means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics.

WHERE she’s from: Olathe, Kansas. Kavya is the daughter of immigrants from India.

WHICH school she attends: California Trail Junior High School. She is an 8th grader.

WORTHY quote: “It’s been my dream for so long. I just can’t believe it’s actually happened.”

WHY she traces words: Tracing with her index finger on the palm helps Kavya visualize the word before she spells it.

WHO was the runner up: Tim Ruiter. Aishwarya Pastapur came in third. Out of the 41 participants who made it to the final rounds in Washington, D.C., where the contest was broadcast in prime time on ABC, 14 were South Asian Americans.

WORK ambition: Kavya wishes to be a neurosurgeon.


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