North Texans Hope to Bring Spelling Bee Championship Home Again

Countless hours of studying and preparation lead to a competition between the some of the smartest students in America

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is under way in Washington D.C.

There are 562 spellers at the bee this year, the largest group ever. Sixteen North Texas students are in the competition.

It's a journey that started more than eight months ago, in classrooms across the country.

Sia Srivastava, a fifth grader at Prosper's Folsom Elementary School, is at the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the first time. Srivastava won the 2018 Doodle 4 Google contest for the state of Texas and was one of five national finalists.

"It's amazing, I've been watching the bee for years and I'm finally here," said Sia Srivastava from Prosper. "I normally am nervous when I'm spelling on stage, but I think it's a huge honor just to get to the stage and actually be there."

Srivastava, a 5th grader at Folsom Elementary, will be wearing bee earrings for good luck. She's already winner -- having won the Doodle4Google Contest for the entire state of Texas in 2018.

Other first-timers, like Dallas International School 6th grader Saida Bidiwala, are finding their own ways to prepare for the pressure under the bright lights.

Dallas' Saida Bidiwala is making her first trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She is 11 years old and is in sixth grade at Dallas International School. Bidiwala speaks five languages -- English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Urdu.

"For stage fright, I've done many plays on stage before. I've been on stage for other spelling competitions," said Bidiwala.

Meanwhile, Lewisville Middle Schooler Sonika Harish is making her second trip to the national bee.

"I think the first time around it was a learning experience," said Harish. "This time around I'm looking forward to learning new words and meeting new people, because that's what it's all about."

Sonika Harish, a 14-year-old eighth grader at Marshall Durham Middle School in Lewisville, is at the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second straight year. She is also active in theater, in which she was awarded "Best Actress" in the UIL's Junior High One Act Play competition in 2017.

Shomoy Kamal of Sherman's Piner Middle School is also returning to the bee.

"This time I feel like I'm more prepared than last time," said Kamal. "I'm more comfortable.. I've been here before."

Shomoy Kamal, a 12-year-old seventh grader from Sherman, is at the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second time. Kamal tied for 42nd place last year.

Naysa Modi, a 13-year-old from Frisco's Reynolds Middle School, will be back for one last crack at the bee this year, she finished runner-up last year.

The word that knocked Modi out of last year's Scripps National Spelling Bee was "Bewusstseinslage."

Last year's winner was Karthik Nemmani of McKinney's Scoggins Middle School spelled "Koinonia" correctly.

The top speller gets $50,000 in cash and the National Spelling Bee trophy.

The final round is on Thursday.

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