12-year-old wins spelling bee with 'abatement'
Published: March 13, 2013
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
ST. CROIX - In a contest where emotions ran high, 12-year-old Manav Thadani claimed the title of Territorial Spelling Bee champ Thursday by correctly spelling "abatement."
Manav, who is a seventh-grader at Antilles School on St. Thomas, battled through 22 rounds at the bee to emerge as the winner.
"I am going to D.C., woohoo!" Manav exclaimed as he took media interviews and celebrated outside after the win.
Manav will be representing the territory during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.
Aaron Harris, 11, came in second in the territorial bee, and Yad Bass, 12, claimed the third-place slot.
Aaron, a seventh-grader at St. Patrick's Catholic School, has been the St. Croix District spelling champ for the last two years, and Yad, a seventh-grader at St. Croix's John H. Woodson Junior High School, was last year's territorial champion.
The competition, held Tuesday at Juanita Gardine Elementary School, pitted the territory's top 12 spellers against each other in a war of correctly spelled words. Six contestants in Tuesday's contest were from the St. Thomas-St. John District, and six call St. Croix home.
The battle was hard-fought, with nerves and emotions running high. Some students took it to heart and became visibly distressed when they misspelled a word.
One speller was eliminated in the first round; by round seven, only five of the original 12 spellers remained. By round 12, the field had been winnowed down to four, and by round 14, Manav, Aaron and Yad were battling it out for the crown.
During early rounds, the words Manav correctly spelled included "lucid," "morgue," "collage," "incredulous" and "suave."
To win, Manav correctly spelled "embroider" during round 21, then "abatement" as his championship word.
After his win, Manav said that credit goes to his coach, Sonya Swan, and to his mom. Manav's parents are Asha and Ashok Thadani.
He said he practiced "long and hard" with his coach and his mother.
Manav said he also thanks God.
"I was raised to think that God chooses who will win," he said.
Manav said his spelling skills got a serious workout at Antilles during his school bee, when the auditorium was filled and the competition lasted 37 rounds.
"This, the territorial bee, was nothing compared to my school bee," he said, describing the school bee as "nerve-wracking."
In two previous years, Manav placed second at the Antilles bee, which did not win him a berth to compete at the district level.
Coming in second taught him to "try a littler harder," he said.
Manav said, however, that he thinks that having fun in these kinds of competitions is the most important thing.
His mother said she was pleased with Manav's performance Tuesday.
"We support him all the time," she said. "I am so happy."
Swan, Manav's coach, said the secret to success in the bee is "perseverance, dedication and a willingness to learn."
Now, Manav will be switching gears, making a quick shift from spelling to math.
He won a spot on the Mathcounts Team representing the territory in the national Mathcounts competition last year, and will be competing at the territorial level again this year, vying for a spot on the team. The territory's Mathcounts competition is scheduled for Thursday on St. Thomas.
The 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee preliminaries, semifinals, and championship finals are May 29 and 30 in Washington with the gala awards banquet scheduled for May 31.
The Daily News has been the sponsor of the local spelling bee since 1985. The Daily News' sponsorship includes funds for the Territorial Bee and the champion and coach's travel and hotel costs for the National Bee.
The Education Department also is a sponsor.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.