Scripps National Spelling Bee

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Scherenschnitte. 

This was 13-year-old Olathe resident Vanya Shivashankar's final word right before she was named co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland last week.

Pronounced share-in-shnit-ah, Vanya said that the German word has quickly become one of her favorites.

A 13-year-old from Olathe won the title of co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The omnivorous speller banters with other local word-enthusiasts, and correctly spells cruciverbalist

Guests:

Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place this week in Washington, D.C., and the Kansas City area will be represented by six youth from middle schools across the region.

Two local competitors received international media attention for their marathon battle to represent Jackson County, but besides Kush Sharma, who won that battle, five other students are also representing the Kansas City area in the national competition.

Here are the six kids to root for as the National Spelling Bee commences:

Ethan Perris

Age: 13

Maria Carter / KCUR

The Jackson County Spelling Bee finally came to an end Saturday morning, sending 13-year-old Kush Sharma of Kansas City, Mo, to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Sharma and 11-year-old Sophia Hoffman of Lee’s Summit went through the entire list of provided words during their first match up on Feb. 22. Organizers selected 20 more words from the dictionary before calling it a tie.

 

Here’s a twist: A spelling bee that ends in a tie. That’s just what happened in Kansas City two weeks ago, but rules are rules, and there can be only one winner.

So, winners Sophia Hoffman and Kush Sharma will compete once more Saturday morning, and this time there will be a victor.

Mark Bowen / Scripps National Spelling Bee

Olathe’s own Vanya Shivashankar is returning from Washington, D.C. this week after competing at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, just a few years after her older sister Kavya took first prize at the competition.

Next week, while the NBA and NHL playoffs drag on, ESPN will turn its attention to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Many will again wonder, "What's a kid's classroom activity doing on the quintessential sports network?" Commentator Victor Wishna has an answer, in this latest edition of "A Fan's Notes."

In the acoustic landscape of organized competition, there are those iconic sounds that separate the hope of victory from ultimate defeat: The buzzer. The horn. The final whistle. But none may be more chilling and spirit-draining than this one: Ding!