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    Faces of the National Spelling Bee – Photo Gallery

    by Charles Borst posted June 1, 2018
    Karthik Nemmani, 14, from McKinney, Texas, is presented with the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy by Adam Symson, president and CEO, E.W. Scripps Company, after he won the bee, in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Karthik Nemmani, 14, from McKinney, Texas, is presented with the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy by Adam Symson, president and CEO, E.W. Scripps Company, after he won the bee in Oxon Hill, Md., on May 31. –Cliff Owen/AP

    The end of the biggest Scripps National Spelling Bee in history came abruptly, and it wasn’t the conclusion that many expected. Naysa Modi, a poised and charismatic four-time participant whose long spelling career seemed to be building toward triumph, sat next to newcomer whom she had already beaten this year — at the county level.

    But 12-year-old Naysa blinked immediately, mixing up the single and double “s” in the German-derived word “Bewusstseinslage” — a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components — and 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani seized an opportunity that he wouldn’t have had before this year.

    “I didn’t really think I’d be able to do it,” the soft-spoken winner said. “I had confidence that I could do it, but I honestly didn’t realistically think it could happen.”

    Karthik’s victory Thursday night put the spotlight back onto the story of this Bee Week — the new wild-card program that Scripps launched to give a chance to spellers like him, who have to compete against some of the nation’s best spellers at the local level. The field was expanded to 515 spellers to accommodate the wild cards — there had never been more than 300 competitors previously — and four of the 16 prime-time finalists got in through the new program, known as “RSVBee.”

    —Ben Nuckols/Associated Press

    Charles Millard, 13, from Frederick, Md., misspells his word during the 2nd Round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Tuesday, May 29, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Charles Millard, 13, from Frederick, Md., misspells his word during the 2nd round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. –Cliff Owen/AP

    The last speller of the day, Eleanor Tallman, 13, from Flower Mound, Texas, spells her word incorrectly during the 2nd Round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Tuesday, May 29, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    The last speller of the day, Eleanor Tallman, 13, from Flower Mound, Texas, spells her word incorrectly during the 2nd round of the Bee. –Cliff Owen/AP

    Winston Zuo, 13, from Yorba Linda, Calif., left, and Matthew Rodgers, 13, from Severance, Colo., wait to spell their word during the 3rd Round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Winston Zuo, 13, from Yorba Linda, Calif., left, and Matthew Rodgers, 13, from Severance, Colo., wait to spell their word during the 3rd round of the Bee. –Cliff Owen/AP

    Ranitha Kumarasinghe, 11, from Charleston, S.C., celebrates correctly spelling "aspirator" during the 3rd Round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Ranitha Kumarasinghe, 11, from Charleston, S.C., celebrates correctly spelling “aspirator” during the 3rd round of competition. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Phoebe Smith, 12, from Aston, Pa., left, and Nilla Rajan, 13, from Chillicothe, Ohio, celebrate as a competitor spells her word correctly in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018. -Jacquelyn Martin/AP

    Phoebe Smith, 12, from Aston, Pa., left, and Nilla Rajan, 13, from Chillicothe, Ohio, celebrate as a competitor spells her word correctly on the final day. –Jacquelyn Martin/AP

    Cameron Keith, 12, from Boulder, Colo., left, stretches next to Paul Hamrick, 14, from Monterey, Calif., during a break at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018. -Jacquelyn Martin/AP

    Cameron Keith, 12, from Boulder, Colo., left, stretches next to Paul Hamrick, 14, from Monterey, Calif., during a break in competition on the final day of the Bee. –Jacquelyn Martin/AP

    Paul Hamrick, 14, from Monterey, Calif., spells his word correctly during the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Paul Hamrick, 14, from Monterey, Calif., reacts after spelling his word correctly during the final rounds of the Bee. –Cliff Owen/AP

    Anita Beroza, 14, from Belmont, Calif., waits to spell her word during the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Beroza incorrectly spelled her word and was eliminated from competition. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Anita Beroza, 14, from Belmont, Calif., waits to spell her word during the third round of the Bee. Beroza incorrectly spelled her word and was eliminated from competition. –Cliff Owen/AP

    Nicholas Lee, 14, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., reacts to spelling his word correctly during the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Nicholas Lee, 14, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., reacts to spelling his word correctly during the third round of the Bee. –Cliff Owen/AP

    Naysa Modi, 12, from Frisco, Texas, sits onstage after spelling her word incorrectly, and loosing the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018. -Cliff Owen/AP

    Naysa Modi, 12, from Frisco, Texas, sits onstage after spelling her word incorrectly, and thus losing the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She had already beaten her remaining competitor, Bee winner Karthik Nemmani, this year at the county level. Modi mixed up the single and double “s” in the German-derived word “Bewusstseinslage” — a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components. –Cliff Owen/AP

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