Rohith '28 puts in a lot of hard work to strengthen his spelling skills.
That hard work is paying off. For the second straight year, Rohith edged out tough competition to win Norfolk Academy's school Spelling Bee on January 6, 2023. The win qualified him for a regional WHRO Bee that is scheduled for mid-February.
Rohith has had already enjoyed success in the WHRO event, earning third place in 2022. The champion of that competition advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held in the spring.
Each day, Rohith gets his school homework done in study hall. That frees up his evenings for spelling. He stays up until about 9 or 10 p.m., going over potential words. He usually goes through 50 to 75 words a day. He has two lists; the most challenging words his parents test him on, while easier words he takes on by himself.
This practice has been going on for the few weeks since after he won the school bee. His interest in spelling started much earlier, though. When he was in first grade, he entered a bee that served as a charity fundraiser. He did well and liked the competition.
“This is fun, let's keep on doing it," he thought to himself.
Rohith topped an outstanding group of 26 students who signed up to compete on January 6. His winning word? Barrister. (That's a lawyer entitled to practice as an advocate, particularly in the higher courts. The term is not used in the United States, but it is common in the United Kingdom and other countries.)
Brogan '28 earned second place. Adam '29 and Sahish '29 shared third. All of the competing sixth, seventh, and eighth graders handled the pressure well and showed great sportsmanship. They combined to spell more than 100 words correctly, under the watchful eyes of their peers in the Price Auditorium audience, Director of Admissions Sarah Smythe, who sponsors the bee at NA, and Headmaster Dennis Manning, who read the words and provided definitions. Mr. Manning competed when he was in elementary school and it kindled his love of words.
Among the words they spelled correctly during the nine rounds: thurible (a container for burning incense); lustrum (a rarely used word describing a five-year period); and eurhythmics (a system of rhythmical physical movements to music used to teach musical understanding or for therapeutic purposes).
Rohith was zoned in, completely focused when he was spelling, in front of the microphone. But he admits to being on edge when he was seated, watching other students and awaiting his next turn.
“You have a limited number of opportunities," he said.
Rohith has a few techniques he uses on stage that help him. He likes to get a better feel for a word by asking the language of origin, the definition, and its use in a sentence.
He's eager for the WHRO competition to arrive, hopeful he'll fare even better this year. What excites him about these events, and spelling in general?
“It's not a thing that a lot of people have inherent talent at," he said. “Everyone starts on equal footing."