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Congrats To Nithika Rangan, Elk Grove’s Own Spelling Bee Whiz

Congrats To Nithika Rangan, Elk Grove’s Own Spelling Bee Whiz

Nithika Rangan, 9


Nithika Rangan, a 9 year old from Elk Grove who attends 3rd grade at Brookfield School, just returned from her first trip to Washington D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Not many 9 year olds go to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This would be considered a phenomenal achievement even for someone in 8th grade. Clearly, Nithika is not your typical 9 year old or 3rd grader.

Nithika started spelling in 1st grade. In 2nd grade she won the North South Foundation Regional Bee. This year, since she was in 3rd grade, it was the first year she could participate in Brookfield School’s spelling bee.  Nithika remarked, “I didn’t expect to win, I just wanted to do my best.” Her winning word in her school spelling bee was “sibilant.” It is an adjective characterized by a hissing sound.

Afterwards, Nithika took an online test administered by Sacramento Bee, the sponsor of the California Central Valley Spelling Bee. She qualified for the California Central Valley Spelling Bee and studied every day with her mother Sandiya. Although Nithika didn’t win the California Central Valley Spelling Bee she qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee through a program called RSVBee.

RSVBee allows finalists of local spelling bees who didn’t win, students living in an area without a registered school or sponsor, or students who have previously competed in the national finals to be accepted into the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Students are also prioritized by age, with 8th grade students receiving the most RSVBee entries into the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Still, Nithika stands out as one of the youngest participants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year.

About Nithika

At 9 years old, Nithika is very well-spoken. Spelling isn’t the only thing she is good at. She has been on the Elk Grove Piranhas Swimteam since she was 7 years old. They now practice at the new Elk Grove Aquatic Center. Last Saturday, Nithika sang the Star Spangled Banner for the swim meet. She is also a national anthem singer for Stanford Athletics Baseball Team.

Nithika is modest about her accomplishments. As an only child, she fills her time by reading and studying spelling words. As I met Nithika, I couldn’t help but marvel at how poised and intelligent she seemed.

7 Sacramento Area Spellers In
Scripps National Spelling Bee

Logan Swain and Samhita Kumar were the winners of the California Central Valley Spelling Bee this year.

The seven children from the  Sacramento area who made it into this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee were: Logan Swain, 13,  of Arden Middle School, Samhita Kumar, 13, of Winston Churchhill Middle School, Megan Lynch, 13, of St. Alban’s Country Day, Sarah Yee, 13, of Granite Bay Middle School, Sebastian Arias-Obando, 13, of Phoenix Elementary School, Nicholas Perry, 8, of St. Rose School, and Nithika Rangan, 9, of Brookfield School. Important to note, Nithika was the only speller from Elk Grove to enter into the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year.

About Scripps National Spelling Bee

The National Spelling Bee began in 1925 and was sponsored by the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1941, the Scripps Broadcasting Company took over sponsorship and continues to sponsor every Scripps National Spelling Bee to date. During the World War II years of 1943, 1944, and 1945, there was no Scripps National Spelling Bee.

To be eligible for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a child must not be older than 16, must not have graduated from 8th grade, and must not have eschewed normal schooling in order to study for the spelling bee.

The first round begins with a 25 question test. Some of the questions ask for a word spelling while others test knowledge about the definition of the word or the etymology. Rounds 2 and 3 are spelling rounds. Afterwards, the spellers are scored and a certain number, usually no more than 50, make it past the preliminaries. The most difficult words are given in the finals. This year, 16 spellers made it to the prime time live finals which were broadcasted on ESPN.

The Experience

Nithika did not make it past the preliminaries this year and tied for 370th place. However, she plans to continue to study words and hopes to place better next year.

Nithika and her parents spent a week in Washington D.C. Nithika notes that although she didn’t make it into the finals, it was an honor just to be there and to meet other spellers, as well as past winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She enjoyed activities such as a Welcome BBQ and an Awards Ceremony with spellers and their families. It was her first time in our nation’s capital.

“I am very inspired by the octo-champs of the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. I want to improve my spelling skills next year and try to win the cup. I like reading books, grammar, writing stories, and of course, spelling and studying root words. I intend to study hard, and hopefully, do this again next year.”  -Nithika Rangan

Nithika’s mother Sandiya emphasizes that she allowed her daughter to pick what she wanted to do well at. Nithika herself made the choice to make the effort to become her school’s spelling champion.

“I would like to say please encourage your kids with whatever talents they have because as they grow older, they will have passion towards it. ” -Sandiya Naveen

Photo Credit: Todd Roy
*Used with permission*

Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals

Eight young spellers made history at the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee by becoming co-champions. It was the first time in spelling bee history that an eight-way tie was awarded at the national level.There were 20 grueling rounds.

Round 20 was epic. One by one, all eight spellers correctly spelled their words and reacted with jubilation. Afterwards, all eight spellers were declared co-champions by the President of Scripps Broadcasting Company. A $50,000 prize is awarded to to the champion. This year all eight contestants will receive $50,000 and their own trophy.

The eight co-champions are: Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of San Jose, California; Erin Howard, 14, of Huntsville, Alabama; Saketh Sundar, 13, of Clarksville, Maryland; Shruthika Padhy, 13, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Sohum Sukhatankar, 13,  of Dallas, Texas; Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Flowermound, Texas; Christopher Serrao, 13,  of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey; and Rohan Raja, 13,  of Dallas, Texas.

The winning words of the Scripps National Spelling Bee 2019 are:
Rishik Gandhasri: auslaut
Erin Howard: erysipelas
Saketh Sundar: bougainvillea
Shruthika Padhy: aiguillette
Sohum Sukhatankar: pendeloque
Abhijay Kodali: palama
Christopher Serrao: cernuous
Rohan Raja: odylic

Looking To The Future

Nithika Rangan is a bright and precocious 9 year old and cites this year’s octo-champs as her inspiration for next year. Undaunted, she absolutely has plans to return. She notes, however, that she has to win Brookfield School’s spelling bee again before she tries to tackle the California Central Valley Spelling Bee or the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  “I go to a really good school so I will have a lot of competition next year.”

Congratulations on making it into the Scripps National Spelling Bee Nithika! Elk Grove is very proud of you! We wish you the best of luck next year and have no doubt we will see you spelling again.


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About The Author

Dr. Jacqueline "Jax" Cheung

Dr. Jacqueline "Jax" Cheung, DrPH, MBA, is the Editor-In-Chief of Elk Grove Tribune. Jax is also the owner of the awarding winning Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption Ministry. She enjoys freelancing for Sacramento4Kids and many other publications. She was voted Sacramento Area A-List Best Local Blogger 2014, 2015, 2017 & 2018 and Best of Elk Grove Best Blogger 2016 & 2017. In 2019 and 2022 Jax was recognized for Outstanding Service & Dedication to Elk Grove with Award of Recognition from the California State Senate. Jax lives in Elk Grove with her 2 daughters. To follow Jax's journey please like her Jax Chronicles Facebook, follow her Instagram @jaxchronicles, follow her Twitter @jaxchronicles, or check out Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption ministry.

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