SWLA 8th grader moves past prelims at Scripps National Spelling Bee

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 2:59 PM CDT
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Sulphur, LA (KPLC) - Young spellers from all over the country meet in Maryland once a year to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and this year, a Maplewood Middle School student is competing.

There are five students from around Louisiana to compete, but Kai Richardson is the only student to be representing Southwest Louisiana.

The preliminary round was first, which aired live today at 8 a.m. This is followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals, which will air tomorrow, and finals, which are Thursday.

Richardson, an eighth grade student, advanced through the preliminaries earlier today and is on his way to the quarterfinals tomorrow.

Kai Richardson, 13, from Sulphur, La., competes during the Scripps National Spelling Bee,...
Kai Richardson, 13, from Sulphur, La., competes during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon | AP)

His word to spell in round 1 was “antenatus,” meaning a person born before a certain time or event, especially with reference to the existence of political rights. In round 2, spellers must match a vocabulary word to its definition, and Kai correctly defined the word “armaments” which means combat weapons and equipment. His word in the third round was “commodity,” an economic good such as: a product of agriculture or mining, an article of commerce especially when delivered for shipment, or a mass-produced unspecialized product. Richardson spelled this word correctly, advancing him to the next stage of the competition.

“I think my knowledge of the root words from my English class and my English skills, as well as my pattern recognition, gave me the skills to advance to the National Spelling Bee,” said Richardson.

When asked what words give him the most trouble, he said, “Indian words or Asian and Eastern words, because there’s less pattern in them and I’m less familiar with them.”

All other students from Louisiana made it through round 1, as well, and round 2 resulted in a total of four Louisiana students advancing.

The Louisiana Scripps spellers and their words and definitions for rounds 1 and 2 are as follows:

Rishaan Reddy, 5th grade, of Baton Rouge

  • CORRECT: Round 1 (spelling) - bismillah: used as a Muslim invocation.
  • CORRECT: Round 2 (vocabulary) - estuary: a water passage where the tide meets current of a stream.
  • CORRECT: Round 3 (spelling) - prodrome: a premonitory symptom of disease

Aiden Pham, 7th grade, of Lafayette

  • CORRECT: Round 1 (spelling) - rocaille: a style of ornamentation developed in the 18th century and characterized by forms derived from the artificial rockwork and pierced shellwork of the period.
  • CORRECT: Round 2 (vocabulary) - billabong: a stagnant pond.
  • CORRECT: Round 3: inception: an act, process, or instance of beginning.

Nayara de Silva-Ahmed, 7th grade, of New Orleans

  • CORRECT: Round 1 (spelling) - ca’canny: to work slowly in order to prolong work.
  • INCORRECT: Round 2 (vocabulary) - biomimicry: a shoe fastener designed like the gripping seeds of a plant.

Sahil Thorat, 8th grade, of Shreveport

  • CORRECT: Round 1 (spelling) - cioppino: a dish of fish and shellfish cooked in tomato sauce and usually seasoned with wine, spices, and herbs.
  • CORRECT: Round 2 (vocabulary) - hermitage: a private retreat.
  • CORRECT: Round 3 (vocabulary) - anon: soon, presently.

The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary is the final authority and sole source for the spelling of words. The only words in Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary not eligible for use in competition are those marked archaic or obsolete.