CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After opening with 291 spellers, the largest field in its 90-year history, the Scripps National Spelling Bee will wrap up Thursday, as 40 finalists will compete for the national championship and a $40,000 prize.
One of the finalists is from right here in the Queen City. Meet 14-year-old Akshra Paimagam, an eight-grade student at Randolph Middle School, who is sponsored by The Charlotte Observer in this year’s contest.
According to her bio on the bee’s website, Akshra hopes to pursue a career in oncology and is inspired by billionaire Bill Gates, whom she shares a birthday with. This summer, she plans to attend the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins to study biology.
In her free time, Aksrha enjoys reading and playing the violin. In 2015, she tied for 39th in Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Among this year's contestants was -year-old Edith Fuller of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the bee's youngest-ever contestant. She was only five when she qualified for the national competition.
The finalists were determined by two rounds of oral competition and their scores on a written spelling and vocabulary test they took Tuesday. The national champion will be crowned Thursday night during a live, prime-time broadcast on ESPN.
“Let’s do this. Shall we?” an enthusiastic Will Lourcey, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Fort Worth, Texas, said as he awaited his chance at the microphone on stage in a massive ballroom at the center.