Rehoboth student to represent Sussex at national spelling bee

April 1, 2024

A 10-year-old Sussex County student is making the g-r-a-d-e when it comes to being the top speller among his peers.

Vihaan Jagadeesh took home the championship prize at the second annual Sussex County Regional Spelling Bee, held March 16 at Sussex Academy in Georgetown. With a correct spelling of the word “marimba,” Vihaan won the 22-round competition that involved 20 spellers from 10 local schools. It took 13 rounds to whittle the field down to two, but the competition went back and forth another nine rounds before Vihaan emerged as the winner of the qualifier event.

Vihaan, a fifth-grader from Rehoboth Elementary, now advances to compete in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer near Washington, D.C. The semifinals begin May 28, with the finals set for May 30; the event will be televised on the ION network.

David Skocik, a longtime public affairs professional who hosted and produced the Comcast Academic Challenge television game show that aired in the region for more than 20 years, served as pronouncer for the competition. Judges – tasked with tracking every word and verifying spelling accuracy – were Rachel Lynch, Sussex County librarian; Michael H. Vincent, Sussex County Council president; and Madeleine Overturf, WRDE-TV news anchor. Spellers studied a 4,000-word list provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Sussex County Libraries sponsored the event.

“This year, we are pleased to host the only Scripps Regional Spelling Bee in the state, allowing a Delaware student the chance to participate in the National Spelling Bee this May,” Lynch said. “This is a great opportunity for students to showcase their skills, help encourage proficiency in literary skills and engage in healthy competition.”

The second regional event hosted by Sussex County Libraries, and the only local qualifier for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the competition encourages exploration of words and lifelong curiosity, with a focus on helping students set goals, and dedicate time to study and prepare. Participation in the bee program also provides an opportunity for students to gain experience in public speaking and develop poise under pressure.



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