WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- A West Lafayette Junior/Senior student has just spelled her way into a potential spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year. 12-year-old Shayari Shanti has now won the regional competition twice. Next, she will compete in the preliminaries, which consists of a quarter-final and semi-final competition. Those competitions will be held online and if she wins she'll be heading to the national bee, which will be held in Orlando, Florida on Jul. 8.
This win is extra special for Shanti because she also won last year's competition but wasn't able to attend. Unfortunately, the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled due to Covid-19. But that cancelation allowed even more time for her to prepare and study for this year's competition. Shanti said she's happy to have made it through for the second time.
"The words were really, really difficult," said Shanti. "I really didn't know very many of them and not a lot of them are from the list that I had been studying and so it did come as a little bit of a surprise."
That's why this year's win was even more rewarding for her. Now she's looking forward to connecting with like-minded students.
"I'm just really excited to go and also just do it with people who actually really love words and this competition," said Shanti.
The 2021 Scripps Regional National Spelling Bee represents ten local counties, 29 schools participated this year. Each school had a registered speller who won their local school Spelling Bee. The regional competition was held on Friday, Mar. 5. Due to Covid-19, this spelling bee was done virtually. The competition was formatted as a written spelling bee test with a Scripps Pronouncer. According to JoAnn Vorst, the co-chair of the 2021 Scripps Regional National Spelling Bee, spellers had a 24-hour window to take the test with a Scripps certified and approved proctor. The test was done at home but during school hours. It was open between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vorst said this year's competition was one of the most challenging, comprehensive, and intensive spelling bees she's ever witnessed.
"I have been involved with this Scripps Spelling Bee for 32 Years, and I have never seen such intensive involvement," said Vorst.
She said many schools opted out of the 2021 Regional Spelling Bee due to the time, effort, technology, communication, and planning. The schools first had to have their own spelling bee and from there, the winner went on to the regional competition.
Shanti finished with a score of 40/50. The second-place winner is also a West Lafayette Intermediate student, Jalen Garner who finished with a score of 30/50. The Third place winner is Katie Olehy of Lafayette Christian School, who finished with a score of 25/50.