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Local spelling bee champ to do TV appearances before returning to school next week

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Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, Calif., spells a word during the finals of the National Spelling Bee Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Oxon Hill, Md. Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, Calif., spells a word during the finals of the National Spelling Bee Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Oxon Hill, Md.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Francis Parker School eighth-grader who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee will appear on several television shows before returning to San Diego to take final examinations and celebrate with classmates.

Snigdha Nandipati, 14, completed the competition in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday night by correctly spelling guetapens, meaning an ambush, snare or trap.

"I knew it," the teen told ESPN. "I'd seen it before. I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started to spell it."

She called her victory a miracle.

Confetti fell to the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center after her victory as she embraced her father, Kirshnarao Nandipati.

Snigdha, who tied for 27th in last year's bee, got her chance for the victory when the other remaining speller, Stuti Mishra, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from West Melbourne, Fla., misspelled schwarmerei, giving an E as the fifth letter instead of an A for the noun meaning excessive, unbridled enthusiasm or attachment.

Both Snigdha and Stuti were competing for the final time in the bee, which is limited to students in eighth grade or below.

The spelling champ's friend, Jasmine Perket, said that Snigdha is a really sweet girl.

"To see her trying and doing her best, it's like I want to do my best, too," Jasmine said.

Dan Lang, the school's dean of students, said Snigdha's presence on campus positively affects her classmates.

"It elevates their thoughts of the community they're in and I'm hoping -- and I'm pretty sure -- it'll also give them a little bit of `Hey, if she can do it, I can do it, too,"' Lang said.

Snigdha is set to appear on "Live With Kelly" on Monday and "The Jimmy Kimmel Show" on Tuesday, and is scheduled to return to campus on Wednesday.

A school celebration is scheduled for June 14.

The bee began with 278 contestants. The field was reduced to 50 based on the scores for a 50-word spelling test taken Tuesday and Wednesday's second- and third-round results, in which spellers received three points for each word spelled correctly.

The competition then moved to the semifinals, where a mistake eliminates a contestant.

Snigdha began the semifinals by nailing the spelling of stochastically, meaning random. She then correctly spelled compas -- a type of Haitian music, and rhonchus -- a snoring-type sound, making her among the nine spellers in Thursday night's finals.

In the finals, Snigdha correctly spelled psammon, which refers to a group of microorganisms that live in water; ajimez, a word for an Arabic type of twin window; luteovirescent, which means greenish-yellow; saccharolytic, which describes a process of breaking down sugars; admittatur, a certificate of admission formerly given by a college or university; and arrondissement, the word for a municipal subdivision in France, before her winning word.

Snigdha will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation; $2,600 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica, including its final print edition, and a lifetime membership to

Britannica Online Premium; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond; a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and a Nook Color and online language course from Middlebury Interactive Languages.

She is the second Southern Californian to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which began in 1925. Anurag Kashyap of Poway was the 2005 champion.

Snigdha enjoys reading random facts in encyclopedias, particularly in topics pertaining to science or history; likes to read whodunits and adventure stories; collects unique coins from around the world; is a member of her school's Yearbook Club and Science Olympiad team; participates in several math-related events; plays violin and is fluent in Telugu, which is spoken in parts of India.

"She's a terrific student," Francis Parker principal Patricia McKenna told City News Service. "She's the sweetest, nicest girl."

McKenna attributed Snigdha's spelling bee success to her passion for it -- including asking McKenna two years ago to have the school resume participating in the bee program after an absence of several years -- her hard work and technique of writing the words out in her hand with a finger before giving her answer.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. Read below for an earlier story.

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The story of this spelling bee champion begins in the car, on the daily commute to kindergarten with father at the wheel.

"He'd ask me words that he saw on the signs, on billboards, and he'd ask me to spell them," Snigdha Nandipati said. "I remember my favorite word to spell was 'design' because it had the silent 'g.'"

It didn't take long for Krishnarao Nandipati to realize his daughter had a special talent. He began entering her in bees in the third grade. Soon she was winning them, and Thursday night the 14-year-old girl from San Diego captured the biggest prize of them all: the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

A coin collector and Sherlock Holmes fan, Snigdha aced the word "guetapens," a French-derived word that means an ambush or a trap, to outlast eight other finalists and claim the trophy along with more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

"I knew it. I'd seen it before," Snigdha, a semifinalist last year, said of the winning word. "I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started spelling."

There was no jumping for joy, at least not right away. The announcer didn't proclaim Snigdha the champion, so she stood awkwardly near the microphone for a few seconds before confetti started to fly. One person who knew for certain she had won was her 10-year-old brother, Sujan, who ran full-speed onto the stage and enveloped his sister in a hug.

In that respect, it was a familiar bee sight — a Indian-American family celebrating and soaking up the ovation in the 85th edition of the annual contest held in the Washington area. Americans of Indian descent have won the bee five times in a row and in 10 of the last 14 years, a phenomenon that began in 1999 with champion Nupur Lala, who was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound."

Snigdha, like many winners before her, cited Lala as an inspiration. And, like several other recent Indian-American champions, she wants to be a doctor — either a psychiatrist or a neurosurgeon.

"She says this is harder than being a neurosurgeon — maybe," her mother, Madhavi, said.

Snigdha's grandparents traveled from Hyderabad in southeastern India for the competition, but it was the little brother who stole the show as he played with the confetti and then helped his sister hoist the huge trophy. Might he be a future champion?

"He's not that interested," the father said. "He's more into tennis."

Second place went to Stuti Mishra of West Melbourne, Fla., who misspelled "schwarmerei" — which means excessive, unbridled enthusiasm. While many spellers pretend to write words with their fingers, 14-year-old Stuti had an unusual routine — she mimed typing them on a keyboard.

The week began with 278 spellers, including the youngest in the history of the competition — 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison of Lake Ridge, Va. The field was cut to 50 semifinalists after a computer test and two preliminary rounds, and Lori Anne was two misspelled words away from a semifinal berth. The tiny, blue-eyed prodigy said she'd be back next year.

Gifton Wright of Spanish Town, Jamaica, was hoping to be the first winner from outside the United States since 1998, but he couldn't correctly spell "ericeticolous." Twelve-year-old Arvind Mahankali of New York aspired to be the first non-teen to win since 2000, but he couldn't spell "schwannoma" and finished third for the second straight year.

"I got eliminated both times by German words," said Arvind, who has one year of eligibility remaining. "I know what I have to study."


This is a story update. A previous story is below.

 

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Francis Parker School eighth grader Snigdha Nandipati will enjoy hometown-hero status when she returns to San Diego County from Maryland, where she won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The 14-year-old completed the competition in National Harbor, Md., Thursday night by correctly spelling guetapens, meaning an ambush, snare or trap.

"I knew it," 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati told ESPN. "I'd seen it before. I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started to spell it."

She called her victory a miracle. Confetti fell to the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center after her victory and she embraced her father, Kirshnarao Nandipati. Snigdha, who tied for 27th in last year's bee, got her chance for the victory when the other remaining speller, Stuti Mishra, a 14-year-old eighth- grader from West Melbourne, Fla., misspelled schwarmerei, giving an E as the fifth letter instead of an A for the noun meaning excessive, unbridled enthusiasm or attachment.

Both Snigdha and Stuti were competing in the bee for the final time as it is limited to students in eighth grade or below.

Snigdha was among the 278 contestants at the start of the bee. The field was reduced to 50 based on the scores for a 50-word spelling test taken Tuesday and Wednesday's second- and third-round results, in which spellers receive three points for each word spelled correctly.

The competition then moved to the semifinals, where a mistake eliminates a contestant.
Snigdha began the semifinals by nailing the spelling of stochastically, meaning random. She then correctly spelled compas -- a type of Haitian music, and rhonchus -- a snoring-type sound, making her among the nine spellers in Thursday night's finals.

In the finals, Snigdha correctly spelled psammon, which refers to a group of microorganisms that live in water; ajimez, a word for an Arabic type of twin window; luteovirescent, which means greenish-yellow; saccharolytic, which describes a process of breaking down sugars; admittatur, a certificate of admission formerly given by a college or university; and arrondissement, the word for a municipal subdivision in France, before her winning word.

Snigdha will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation; $2,600 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica, including its final print edition, and a lifetime membership to

Britannica Online Premium; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond; a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and a Nook Color and online language course from Middlebury Interactive Languages.

Snigdha is the second Southern Californian to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which began in 1925, following Anurag Kashyap of Poway, the 2005 champion.

Snigdha enjoys reading random facts in encyclopedias, particularly in topics pertaining to science or history; likes to read whodunits and adventures; collects unique coins from around the world; is a member of her school's Yearbook Club and Science Olympiad team; participates in several math-
related events; plays violin and is fluent in Telugu, which is spoken in parts of India.

"She's a terrific student," Francis Parker Principal Patricia McKenna told City News Service. "She's the sweetest, nicest girl."

McKenna attributed Snigdha's spelling bee success to her passion for it -- including asking McKenna two years ago to have the school resume participating in the bee program after an absence of several years -- her hard work and technique of writing the words out in her hand with a finger before giving her answer.

A celebration at the school is expected before the end of the school year.

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