Fresno girl wins national elementary-school spelling bee
• Ananya Vinay won the Clovis Unified School District’s spelling bee and will compete at the Fresno County Spell Off on March 19.
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• Long Beach contest modeled after national Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.
• Unlike Scripps, the National Elementary School Spelling Bee can feature any word in the dictionary, not just those on a list.
A 9-year-old Fresno girl correctly spelled the words “hydrofoil” and “paucity” to win a national spelling bee held by a Long Beach nonprofit organization on Sunday.
Ananya Vinay, a fourth-grade student at Fugman Elementary School and winner of this year’s Clovis Unified School District’s spelling bee contest, outspelled 34 other students in grades three to five to win $1,000 in the 14th annual National Elementary School Spelling Bee.
Spelling “comes naturally to her,” said Ananya’s mother, Anupama Poliyedath. “She reads a lot.”
The event, which also has an adult contest, is organized by the Community Action Team, a nonprofit headed by Long Beach activist and community organizer Justin Rudd. It is modeled after the Scripps National Spelling Bee held annually in Washington, D.C., but is geared toward younger students, said Rudd whose organizes 60 events, contests and projects in Long Beach every year.
“I knew the National Spelling Bee is typically for middle schoolers,” Rudd said. “I wanted to create one for elementary schools.”
But unlike the Scripps contest, Rudd’s event doesn’t provide students with a study list. Any word in the dictionary is fair game.
“We don’t want them to memorize a large list of words,” Rudd said. “It’s really a surprise.”
Some of the words spelled in the final round include: exaggerate, fraternity, hypocrisy, amass, excessive, intuitive, lexical and monotheism.
This was Ananya’s second try at the Long Beach contest. She participated last year and placed fifth. She will next compete at the Fresno County Spell Off this month.
“I’m glad she made it to the top,” Poliyedath said. “Sometimes there’s an element of luck. What I was most happy about is she stayed cool when she asked for clues. It’s high pressure for little kids.”
The second place winner was a 10-year-old from Riversidewho misspelled “medallion.” Third place was a tie between an 11-year-old from Yorba Linda and a 7-year-old from Camarillo.