She may not have made it to the semi-finals of the 2009 National Spelling Bee at the Grand Hyatt Washington, but with a total score of nineteen (19) points, Ghana’s Nana Adjoa Baiden-Amissah was among the best performers on the night of the preliminary rounds.
13-year old Kavya Shivashankar, sponsored by ‘The Olathe News’ and from the California Trail Junior High School emerged the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion, spelling the championship word ‘laodicean’ which means "lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics."
The spelling competition began Tuesday with 293 competitors who qualified to compete in the Bee by winning locally sponsored bees in their home communities and countries. The 2009 competition marked the largest field of competitors in the history of the event.
After an initial round one of computer based spelling tests, the two hundred and ninety-three (293) spellers from across the world gathered for two rounds of spelling on stage. 13 year old 8th grader, Nana Adjoa from the Crown Prince Academy in Accra correctly spelt both words.
With the cut-off point for the semi-finals fixed at a minimum 28 points and only fifty (50) spellers targeted, Nana Adjoa and two hundred and forty-nine (249) others were eliminated.
“Well, I did very well... with my six maximum points from main preliminary round I could easily have made it if my score from the round one test was higher” Nana Adjoa said with a shy smile, adding very quickly “I don’t have any reason to be disappointed. I spelt both words correctly and not everybody did on the day... and oh they couldn’t even get the fifty (50) people for the semi-finals.”
While organisers were expecting fifty (50) semi-finalists, only forty-two (42) made the qualifying pass mark, and according to the Country Manager of Spelling Bee Ghana, Eugenia Appiah, Nana Adjoa’s performance was a good one and an improvement on their representative of last year.
Ghana is the only African country represented at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, making its second consecutive appearance at the finals. The country made history in 2008 when Maria Isabel Kubabom joined others spellers for a fun-filled one week.
Nana Adjoa who was coached by Evangeline Bortey, an English Teacher from the SOS Herman Gmeiner School, was the toast of many spellers and parents here, mainly because she was holding high the flag of Africa and also because of her dressing and bags which were all adorned with the colours of the Ghanaian flag.
Though disappointed she did not make it to the semis, Nana, who represented the dailyEXPRESS Newspaper in Accra, was excited about the opportunity the participation offered- the fun, the joy of meeting other children to share experiences, learning many more new words and the fact that she scored 19 points far ahead of over a hundred other spellers.
Finishing second in this year's competition was Tim Ruiter, a 12-year-old seventh grader representing Times Community Newspapers of Reston, Va. 13-year old Aishwarya Pastapur, representing the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois was third.
Cash prizes for competitors ranged from $100 to the National Champion’s $30,000 in addition to an engraved loving cup; a $5,000 scholarship from Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation; a $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond and complete reference library from Merriam-Webster; and reference materials valued at more than $2,800 and the Britannica Test Prep Precocious Package valued at $799 from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
All the finalists received the 51-volume "Britannica Discover America" and the 2008 "Encyclopaedia Britannica Student Edition" DVD-ROM.
All spellers receive a commemorative watch; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, which consists of a $100 EE U.S. Savings bond; and Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, on CD-ROM from Merriam-Webster.
About the Scripps National Spelling Bee
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is America’s largest and longest-running educational promotion, administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and 287 local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, New Zealand, and South Korea. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives.
The local newspaper sponsor of the Spelling Bee in Ghana is the dailyEXPRESS, Ghana’s first and only FREE newspaper and the competition managed by Essence Communications.
The 2009 Spelling Bee Ghana Competition headline sponsored by Indomie Instant Noodles and supported by Cowbell. The media partners for the competition were JoyFM, Junior Graphic, Radio Universe and Tv3.