Fairfax County Seventh Grader Competing in Scripps Spelling Bee


Ever since Ankita Balaji was in third grade and noticed her older sister, Akshita, win her class spelling bee, she’s had an simple ardour for spelling.

Four years later, the seventh grader at Rachel Carson Middle School will take part within the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee that begins Tuesday, May 28. After she was topped champion of the 2024 Fairfax County Spelling Bee on March 17, Balaji began getting ready to take her expertise to the nationwide degree.

Her profitable phrase within the March competitors was “Zanni,” an Italian phrase which means an astute servant and a trickster. Another phrase on the varsity spelling listing was “Popocatépetl”, which is a stratovolcano in Mexico.

“It was nerve-racking, it was enjoyable, it was thrilling, and it was suspenseful,” Balaji says about her expertise within the spring bee, hosted by the Fairfax County Council PTA.

The Merrifield native credit her relations as her largest supporters all through this course of.

“They’ve been with me by way of all of this and I simply actually thank them for that,” she says.

“I wish to thank my grandpa, who has at all times been there for me,” Balaji says. “He lives in India, so it’s a totally completely different time zone, and he’s at all times staying up [to] pray to verify I do my greatest.”

Balaji’s sister, Akshita, now a junior at Westfield High School, is a two-time contestant within the Scripps National Spelling Bee (2019, 2021). Before Ankita’s county spelling bee in March, Akshita inspired her to only concentrate on herself and get her personal phrases proper — nobody else’s.

In preparation for the bee, Balaji is reviewing the lists Scripps supplies every contestant. Three ranges are included within the competitors: a “Words of the Champions” listing, a vocabulary part, and a last 500-word listing.

Balaji might be up in opposition to 244 different spellers from throughout the nation within the bee that runs by way of Thursday on the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. All are below 16 and haven’t gone past the eighth grade.

“You by no means know what might occur,” Balaji says. “After preliminaries, something further is truthful recreation, from vocab to spelling.”

You’ll be capable to watch the spelling bee competitors on ION Television.

“I hope to only do my greatest and get nonetheless far I can, and make some mates alongside the best way [who] I do know might be there,” Balaji says.

Feature picture of Ankita Balaji courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

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