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Education News

Houston’s Top Spellers Eliminated in Semifinals of National Spelling Bee

This marks the end of former finalist Syamantak Payra’s spelling bee career.



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At the National Spelling Bee, Syamantak Payra was a crowd favorite.

Last year he tied for seventh place.

But then in the semifinals this year, he got the word “circumforaneous.”

“This word means to go from one place to another. When I heard this word and I was spelling it, I associated it with the word ‘circumference.'”

The first half of the word did have the same root as circumference. But the second half didn’t.

On missing the word, Syamantak got a standing ovation from the crowd.

This eighth grader from Friendswood, though, isn’t dwelling on his mistake.  He says he’ll remember other things from his spelling bee career.

“All the hard work and the work ethic you learn in this entire process of coming to this level in competition. I think that’s really a very important part of the spelling bee and something that stays with you for the rest of your life.”

He’s looking forward to high school and pursuing other passions like math and the violin.

Houston’s other top speller Shobha Dasari also made it to the seminfinals.

She got knocked out by the word “helophyte.”

“It was definitely a little bit nerve-wracking but it was also exciting because I’ve made it to the semifinals for the second year in a row and that’s something that not a lot of people get to experience.”

Shobha, a seventh grader from Pearland, says she will study more spelling over the summer to have a better shot next year.

Shobha Dasari(left) and Syamantak Payra(right)