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Spelling Champs: Immigrants Prove Power Of Education, Strong Parenting

June 3, 2019

The Scripps National Spelling Bee was simply impressive this year in ways that it has never been before. Thursday night ended with not one spelling champion or even two co-champions, but with eight winners. Starting with 562 contestants who qualified for the national stage when the contest began, the final eight spellers proved what tenacity, intelligence and faith can achieve. Let us also not forget the parents who clearly made education a priority in their homes.

After 20 rounds the established rules came into play, along with the fact the judges had run out of challenging words. And so they decided that each finalist who were correctly termed “the most phenomenal assemblage of super-spellers” in the Bee’s history would take home a first prize trophy and the $50,000 check that accompanies it.

If there is ever a reason for a national smile, this has to certainly be the occasion.

These are the champions, along with the final word they spelled correctly:

Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of San Jose, Calif.: auslaut.

Erin Howard, 14, of Huntsville, Ala.: erysipelas.

Saketh Sundar, 13, of Clarksville, Md.: bougainvillea.

Shruthika Padhy, 13, of Cherry Hill, N.J.: aiguillette.

Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas: pendeloque.

Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Flower Mound, Tex.: palama.

Christopher Serrao, 13, of Whitehouse Station, N.J.: cernuous.

Rohan Raja, 13, of Irving, Tex: odylic.

In case a glance at the kids’ names doesn’t make it obvious, all but one of the champions is of Indian descent. For at least the last 12 years, in fact, the children of immigrants from South Asia have crushed the world’s most prestigious spelling bee.

There is a lesson with those facts. Too many who were born in this nation are not wedded to the force of education in ways that will produce outcomes for their children. But immigrants know the rough road of life, and when given an opportunity embrace it warmly. Our homes and schools can produce the kids we all can agree are exactly what we want for our future.

And immigrants are showing us how to achieve that result.

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