STUDENTS | March 13, 2018
Thirteen-year-old Riya Joshi holds the title as the 2017 CPS Citywide Spelling Bee Champion and she’ll be returning again this year to compete at Lindblom High School Thursday.
“I was shocked when I won,” she said. “It was just surreal for me.”
The seventh-grader attends Whitney Young Magnet High School’s Academic Center and said she’s always studying, not just to win, but because she “loves spelling.”
“I’m just going to study as much as I can and absorb as many words as I can,” Riya said. “I have flash cards. I study lists of words I find and my parents and twin sister also find words for me and quiz me on them.”
She will compete Thursday in Englewood against CPS elementary students from across the city. The students range from fourth to eighth grade and will compete for a spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland.
Earlier this year, 135 schools held individual, school-wide spelling bees and declared one winner from each school.
All winners completed Scripps National Spelling Bee’s online assessment, and the top 50 highest scorers were chosen to compete in Thursday’s championship.
Throughout the year, over 38,000 elementary students participate in the Spelling Bee, as part of the district’s commitment to provide students with the opportunity to improve their spelling and increase their vocabulary while preparing them for high school and beyond.
As the winner last year, Riya was able to compete in Washington, D.C. in June. It was her first time at the nation’s capital.
“I got to take a week off and tour D.C., compete and meet all these spellers who I connected with, who were from different parts of the country, and other countries too,” she said. “It was surreal. I’m really thankful I was able to do that.”
She said she hopes to win again. To prepare, she’s been memorizing the 1,000 words on her study list and has even started learning Latin.
“It’s really helpful for the roots,” she said.
Last year’s second place winner will be competing, as well as a former classmate, but Riya said she’s ready.
“It’s going to be an interesting competition, but I’m really excited for it,” she said.
The citywide winner will join dozens of students from across the country, all seeking to be crowned the 2018 National Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee Champion, and receive a $40,000 grand prize.
Riya said that her passion for spelling started in kindergarten. That was when she first began competing.
“I ended up coming in second in the division for the grades, but it was that moment, I just kind of started having a passion for words,” she said. “And in third grade I started watching the National Spelling Bee and saw all these kids spell and I imagined that being me one day.”
Riya said although it’s early, she’s already considering competing in high school and college.
“I just love spelling in general and I love learning roots,” she said.