Columbine area spelling bee: In a word, 'amazing'

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Winner will represent area in March at state competition

By Ramsey Scott

As fifth-grader Radhika Dave spelled out the final word to win the Columbine area spelling bee last Thursday, her mother, Aditi, gave an excited fist pump.


Throughout the competition, Aditi Dave, a native of India, had been checking her daughter’s words on her phone, typing the letters as her daughter spelled.

When her daughter finished a word, her mother would know whether or not she had spelled it correctly before the judges announced the verdict. She pumped her fist with each correct spelling.

“It was amazing. Clearly I am happy for her,” said Dave, for whom English is a second language. 

“I was nervous because I thought I would get it wrong,” Radhika, a fifth-grader from Normandy Elementary, said of her final word, “thermotropism.”

Now her nervousness is directed at the March 16 state spelling bee, where she will be representing Columbine at the Colorado Convention Center.

The final word was one of several that had even parents in the audience scratching their heads. 

“Janiform.” “Metastasis.” “Heterotrophy.” When the word “synoptophore” was given to one of the students, several parents laughed out loud. 

“We have some amazing spellers in this area,” said Jeffco school board member Paula Noonan, who acted as the pronouncer for the bee. 

The competition became fierce in the later rounds as Radhika vied with Madeline Wessels, a sixth-grader from Governor’s Ranch, and Saif Sarsour, a fourth-grader from Normandy. 

Several times in the later rounds, Radhika had chances to win the bee but misspelled the final word, leaving the door open for the other two students to get back into the competition. 

“I was really nervous,” said Madeline, who ended up taking second place. 

Several times a word had to be thrown out due to either Noonan or the student mispronouncing it, a standard rule in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The bee, hosted by Normandy Elementary, featured the two best spellers from Columbine Hills, Dutch Creek, Governor’s Ranch, Leawood and Normandy elementary schools and Ken Caryl Middle School.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.