After a tense four-hour competition featuring 55 spellers from 42 Texas counties, two Houston area teens were declared co-champions at the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee Saturday.
Shobha Dasari, an eighth grader at McCullough Jr. High in Conroe ISD, and Siddharth Krishnakumar, a seventh grader at Pearland Jr. High West in Pearland ISD, will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 24-29 in Washington, D.C., with an all-expenses-paid trip to what is affectionately known as “Bee Week.”
Dasari correctly spelled “boutonniere” and Krishnakumar was accurate on “fomites” to emerge as the top two spellers in the nation’s second largest local spelling bee, which was broadcast live on Channel 8 and streamed live online. According to rules, the top two local contestants advance to the national competition.
Dasari is an established veteran in the event, competing five times in the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee and emerging three times as co-champion. She was a semifinalist at Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2013 and 2014.
This is Krishnakumar’s first year in the competition.
They will join more than 250 contestants in the national competition, which will be television live on ESPN.
The Houston competition featured 27 girls and 28 boys ranging in age from 7 to 14 and in grades second through eighth, representing 1,094 schools in Texas.