Sixth-graders Vasundara Govindarajan and Kyla Lin Truong headed into the Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday with high hopes of carrying on family traditions, but only one of the South Florida girls made it into Thursday’s final round.
“I feel so excited, because this is my first time and I accomplished so well,” said Vasundara, 12, a student at the Archimedean Academy in Miami.
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Vasundara took first place in the Miami Herald spelling bee last year, but couldn’t participate in the national contest because only middle school students were selected in the county. A rule change allowed Vasundara to participate as an elementary student this year.
“Age doesn’t matter, it is just how much you know,” said Vasundara.
Vasundara said she hopes to “bring the cup home to make [her brother] happy.” Vasundara’s brother Vaidya competed in the national spelling bee in 2010 and 2012, and is watching the contest as a spectator — and a nervous one at that.
“It is definitely a lot worse to be in the audience to watch someone you care about than to be up there,” said Vaidya, now a senior at Archimedean Upper Conservatory. Vaidya finished in the top 10 both years.
Vasundara advanced after spelling “Nostradamus” and “prenuptial” correctly.
She is set to compete in the final round beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee will receive a $40,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy
Kyla, an 11-year- old at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, didn’t make it to the final round, but hopes to return with a stronger performance next year.
“This is a beginning year. This is a start of something. I need to do this,” said Kyla, who was inspired by an older cousin who placed third in a county spelling bee several years ago.
“I was like ‘wow, that’s really cool.’ I want to do it too,” she said.
Her father, Ngoc-Tien Truong, a first generation American from Vietnam, said he is proud of what Kyla has achieved.
“When I was at her age, I [could] hardly say a few words in English, and now, she knows so much, so it warms my heart, makes me very happy,” Truong said.
Kyla’s first word of the day was “maquette,” and her second was “dialysis.” Although she nailed both of them, she did not do well enough in the preliminary written test to make the finals.