Shrewsbury middle school student advances to Scripps National Spelling Bee

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Shrewsbury middle school student advances to Scripps National Spelling Bee
Oak Middle School eighth grader Saketh Madhusudhan recently qualified to compete in Washington DC at the Scripps National Spelling Bee next month. (Photo/Cindy Zomar)

SHREWSBURY – Spelling does not always come easy, Shrewsbury’s Saketh Madhusudhan recently noted.

Yet the eighth-grade student also recently celebrated after winning the 36th Annual Daily Item Regional Spelling Bee in Lynn. Now, he’s headed to the massive Scripps National Spelling Bee next month.

“You can’t memorize over 700,000 words, so I look for certain patterns and rules and then apply them,” Madhusudhan said in an interview with the Community Advocate after his win.

An eighth-grade student at Shrewsbury’s Oak Middle School, Madhusudhan is no stranger to the winner’s circle, having won his school’s spelling bee in 2020.

He would have advanced to additional competitions, but the rest of that year’s schedule had to be canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two years later, this year’s Regional Bee was held at Lynn City Hall, with thirty-six contestants.

Each contestant took a written test prior to the bee, with only a little more than two weeks to study and learn a list of about 4,500 words.

“At least it was less than trying to learn the whole dictionary,” Madhusudhan joked when discussing that challenge.

Madhusudhan has now qualified for the national bee in Washington DC at the end of May. The finals will be broadcast on June 3, featuring competition between hundreds of qualifiers.

Between now and then, using a program called Spellpundit, Madhusudhan will be trying to learn about 1,300 words each day.

He then has his own unique method of identifying spellings on stage before giving his answers.

“I pronounce it, then ask for all the information about the word,” he explained. “That includes the definition, the language of origin, the part of speech it is, alternate pronunciations, and I ask for it to be used in a sentence. Then I airwrite it on my hand or the back of a card to visualize it before giving my answer.”

The trip to Washington DC will be a mixture of “business” and pleasure.

Madhusudhan’s family is looking forward to sightseeing, he noted.

Sponsors joining the Daily Item for the now completed Lynn regional event were local entrepreneurs Joel and Mary Abramson.

The Abramsons are now providing airfare and hotel accommodations for Madhusudhan’s DC trip, as well as a $100 Amazon gift card and spending money for him and a chaperone.

While he prepares for the spelling bee, Madhusudhan is also looking forward to Shrewsbury High School next year, noting that his favorite subject is math. He enjoys playing video games, going outside, reading, and spending time with his family.

As for spelling bees, he has celebrated his competitors in his last round of competitions, adding that he “never expected to get this far.”

“It was a great experience,” he continued. “Now I am looking forward to this next experience!”

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