Providence 7th-grader is State Spelling Bee champion

Providence 7th-grader is State Spelling Bee champion

Youngest contestant, Aathraey Shrikanth, of Lincoln, makes it to final 3

LINCOLN – Despite stumbling on the word “motley,” Amelia Edelsberg of Providence, a 7th-grade student at The Lincoln School, made a comeback and clinched the 2017 State Spelling Bee with the championship word: “magnific.”

She was one of 27 students who competed last Saturday morning at Lincoln Middle School for a chance to win the competition and move onto the national stage, the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

Edelsberg said she studied every day for about 30 minutes, reading from the Scripps word packet in preparation for Saturday’s bee, whether that meant studying at home or while traveling in the car.

Edelsberg hadn’t qualified for the State Spelling Bee last year, and she said that though standing before a crowd at the state bee was intimidating, “if you’re confident and if you believe it, you can do it.”

After 18 rounds, Edelsberg and Giovanna Landrie, of West Warwick, an 8th-grade student at Deering Middle School, were the final two to share the stage. Landrie had survived 19 rounds at last year’s bee, before losing to two-time state winner Christopher Relyea of Lincoln.

The words “purblind” and “dewlap” caused Landrie to trip up in the “championship round,” the final stage of the spelling contest, though she successfully spelled “mar,” “aul,” “cossack” and “sevruga” earlier on in the competition.

As more students were eliminated from the bee, both she and Edelsberg said they tried to keep calm and focus on one more round.

“Seeing people leave the stage is always really sad,” Landrie told The Breeze after the bee ended.

This year marks her last time competing, as she’ll move on to high school next year.

Making it to the final three was the youngest contestant, 3rd-grade student Aathraey Shrikanth of Lincoln. He attends Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, where he out-spelled students in grades 4 through 7 before advancing to the state bee.

He stood tall at the microphone, his chin hardly reaching it. As he sat on stage waiting for his turn to spell, his feet dangled, not touching the floor.

Shrikanth spelled “impasse,” “hacienda,” “nebbish,” “dressage” and “sortie” correctly, maintaining his seat on the stage until round 17, when he tripped up on the word “quarry.”

The 3rd-grade student stuck around for the rest of the bee, and waited to personally shake Edelsberg’s hand to congratulate her on her victory.

Lolith Chatragadda, a 7th-grade student at Lincoln Middle School, represented his school through round 15, when incorrectly spelling “doleful” cost him his spot on stage. He was the first to spell in each round of the competition until that moment, when he left the stage to join his family sitting in the LMS auditorium.

He was one of five left in round 15, and made it through words including “mediocre,” “kitsch,” “juggernaut,” and “feldspar.”

Round 14 led to Cumberland’s Nolan Rogalski taking a seat. The word “placards” caused him to trip up. He, like Landrie, had made it to the final three in last year’s State Spelling Bee, surviving 19 rounds of competition.

The Community Elementary School 5th-grader triumphed with words including “ostentatious,” “hippopotamus,” “troika” and “babushka.” Principal Cindy Giroux was in the audience, watching as Rogalski continued on in the bee before he was eliminated.

Another Cumberland resident, Emma Cotter, a 5th-grade student representing the Good Shepherd School with the Diocese of Providence, was one of five students to be eliminated in the first round of the bee.

Smithfield’s Anna Costello, a 5th-grade student at William Winsor Elementary School, made it to round 14. It was here that she stumbled while spelling “fellowship,” and knew halfway through spelling the word that she had made a mistake, pausing to place her forehead on the microphone in defeat.

Once they have begun spelling a word, students are not allowed to restart. Before she left the LMS stage, she triumphed with words such as “duenna,” “fastidious,” “samurai,” “camphor” and “mahatma.”

Using her fingers to trace letters in her hand, Emma Larsh, a 7th-grade student at Scituate Middle School, made it to the second round of the competition, where she spelled “pinafore” incorrectly.

Dancing his way to the microphone each time was Yilmaz Kasapoglu of Birchwood Middle School in North Providence, a 6th-grade student. He lasted until round five, where he spelled “ingenious” incorrectly. Before his defeat, he’d spelled “extravaganza,” “hominy” and “jovial” right.

North Smithfield Middle School’s Brendan Drolet, a 6th-grade student, made it to round three, where he stumbled over the word “quiche.” He’d successfully spelled “discern” and “animosity” before exiting the stage after he was eliminated from the competition.

Representing Foster/Glocester was 5th-grade student Liam Dixon, who attends Capt. Isaac Paine Elementary School. He’d successfully spelled “mantilo” and “cognition” before the word “regatta” troubled him, and he was eliminated in round four, landing a seat back in the audience.

The State Spelling Bee is sponsored by the Breeze, and Tom Ward, publisher, made opening remarks at the event this year. Jared Pliner, reporter/anchor at WPRI-TV 12, served as the pronouncer, and Donna Morelle, former superintendent of the Cumberland School Department, was chief judge.

Joining her on the panel were Martha Correia of Navigant Credit Union and Leigh Martin, professor of English at Community College of Rhode Island.

After his defeat, Nolan Rogalski offered simple advice to other students pursuing future spelling bees: read.

The more books students dive into, he said, the more challenging words they’ll come across.

“You look it up, and it’s a new word in your index,” he said with a smile.

Anna Costello, a 5th-grader at the William Winsor School in Smithfield, waits for her word to spell in the 2017 Rhode Island Spelling Bee. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)
Liam Dixon, a 5th-grader at the Capt. Isaac Paine School in Foster, deliberates before spelling his word. The Bee, sponsored by The Valley Breeze, was held at Lincoln Middle School on Saturday.
Emma Larsh, a 7th-grader at Scituate Middle School, begins to spell out her word.