D Kevin McNeirEducation

Final Round of 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Starts July 8

Nine of the 11 Finalists Represent Indian-Americans

The final round of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place Thursday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex within Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando. The finals, which begin at 8 p.m., will air on ESPN2 and ESPNU and will last as many rounds as needed until a champion has been declared.

According to the National Spelling Bee’s website, the finalists have already advanced through three levels of competition: the preliminary, the quarterfinal and the semifinal rounds.

In previous years, all three rounds were held in one week called “Bee Week.” But due to the pandemic, the three levels of competition before the finals were held virtually. 

Nine of the 11 finalists for this year’s U.S. Spelling Bee contest represent Indian-Americans reflecting the dominance youth from the small ethnic community have had on the prestigious and high-pressure endurance test for more than a decade now. Over the past 20 years, Indian-Americans have dominated the Spelling Bee contest even though they comprise only about 1% of the U.S. population.

“We are honored to introduce our 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists. Round after round, this group of spellers proved their mettle and we look forward to seeing them show off their knowledge and hard work as they square off against the dictionary on the national stage,” said Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Bee.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s 209 national qualifiers. They’ve persevered over a year that has been challenging in many ways and our team is proud to have witnessed their journey,” he said.

The 11 finalists include Roy Seligman, 12, from Nassau, The Bahamas; Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York; Sreethan Gajula, 14, from Charlotte, North Carolina; Ashrita Gandhari, 14, from Leesburg, Virginia; Avani Joshi, 13, from Illinois; Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from New Orleans; Vivinsha Veduru, 10, from Texas; Dhroov Bharatia, 12, from Dallas; Vihaan Sibal, 12, from Texas; Akshainie Kamma, 13, from Texas and Chaitra Thummala, 12, from San Francisco.

In 2020, the Bee was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But eight co-champions collectively took top honors in 2019, seven of them being Indian-Americans bringing the total number of Indian-American champions since 1999 to 26.

Each year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee reaches more than 11 million students participating in spelling bees held in classrooms, schools and locally sponsored events around the country and in other parts of the world. The Scripps National Spelling Bee serves as the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program with the purpose to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives. 

For more information, visit spellingbee.com. 

Founded in 1878, Scripps has held for decades to the motto, “Give light and the people will find their own way.” 

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents, the native Detroiter engineered a transformation of The Miami Times resulting in its being named the NNPA’s “Publication of the Year” in 2011 – just one of several dozen industry-related awards he’s earned in his career. He currently serves as senior editor for The Washington Informer. There, in the heart of the U.S. Capitol, he displays a keen insight for developing front-page news as it unfolds within the greater Washington area, capturing the crucial facts and facets of today’s intriguing, political arena. He has degrees from The University of Michigan, Emory University and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 2020, he received First Place for Weekly Newspaper, Commentary & Criticism, Society of Professional Journalists, Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter. Learn more about him at www.dkevinmcneir.com, Facebook – Kevin McNeir, Twitter - @mcneirdk, Linkedin – D. Kevin McNeir or email: mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com.

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