Kavya Shivashankar did a better job than the media has indicated. The press reports all say that she missed a word in the 11th round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee (5/31, A-1, “Lots of success, but then tears; Olathe girl advances into final evening of the National Spelling Bee, but an Indiana boy wins”). This does not give an accurate picture of how well Kavya did. Out of millions of spellers from many different countries, Kavya tied for fourth place — what an outstanding achievement.
She was impressive to watch as she asked the judges questions about the roots of words that the judges couldn’t answer. Her knowledge of English, Latin, Greek and French was truly amazing. Even the word she missed, ecrase, she spelled correctly right up to the last letter. Not knowing the word, she gave a highly educated guess because that ending sound in French has two possible spellings. She correctly gave one of the two. It was a 50-50 shot, and she simply guessed wrong.
To make her achievement even more impressive, Kavya is only 12. She did an outstanding job and has done her hometown proud.