Delaware Spellings Bring Their ‘A’ Game


Seventy students from across Delaware gathered at St. Mark’s High School in Pike Creek to compete Saturday for the state spelling bee.

The contestants, in grades four through eight, went through an entire 300-word contest book and had to end the tournament with a new list of “unstudied” words. The competition lasted more than five hours.

After 28 rounds, a “remarkable” amount, according to the judges, 12-year-old Maanvi Sarwadi of the Caravel Academy won.

The seventh-grader won the competition with “PHYTON“, which is defined as “the smallest part of a stem, root or leaf”. She said she used grammar rules about foreign words to make an educated guess about the word.

“I really studied the rules in the packet they gave us, like in Greek the ‘I’ doesn’t really appear much. So that sound is usually a ‘Y’,” Maanvi said.

The words used in the competition largely included foreign words or dishes in later rounds to shake up the students, but the contestants came prepared.

“It was amazing how many rounds we had without eliminations,” said judge Robin Brown.

Schools receive lists of studies to give to the champions of their schools before the competition. More students really studied the word list, making the year one of the longest competitions, said Anne Marie Eanes, organizer and chair of St. Mark’s English department.

This year, 74 schools — public, private and home schools — have been registered, said Eanes, who has coordinated the state bee for the past 10 years.

“I was an English teacher for 31 years, and I had never seen the words they spelled before,” Eanes said.

The words the students spelled included “wampum”, “chimichanga”, “kovsh”, “gestalt”, “ameliorate” and “waterzooi”.

Maanvi said she has been preparing since winning her school’s spelling bee. His parents said winning at the state level has been his goal since his third-place finish at last year’s event.

“I would finish my homework in 15 or 20 minutes, then from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. every day I would study the words and then I would go to bed,” she said.

She said she was going to put her trophy in her trophy case – right in front of her third place trophy from last year. The Caravel Academy student said she found the competition tougher this year but was successful.

“I think there was more tension this year. It was different. This year I had to be first. I had to win no matter what – I was going home with a trophy.”

Maanvi is not finished yet. She’s already planning to work hard for her next competition: the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Contact Josephine Peterson at (302) 324-2856 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jopeterson93.


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