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Olathe's Kavya Shivashankar wins national spelling beeBY KEVIN WRIGHTRobert Giroux Kavya Shivashankar celebrates with her family after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

More News Kavya Shivashankar won the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee one word at a time."When I was the last one left, I thought I had a chance to win, but I didn't think about (winning) until then," she said.

"I had focused on one word at a time."But it was difficult for Kavya to not think about winning when her remaining two competitors were eliminated in the 15th round of the championship finals.She quickly refocused her thoughts, however, stepped to the mike and spelled "Laodicean" for the victory.Everything afterward seemed unreal."I don't think it's completely sunk in, yet," she said.Kavya, 13, who will enter the ninth grade at California Trail Junior High School in August, had made three previous appearances at the national bee, each time making it to the championship rounds.She knew being the champion would come with immediate demands, but she wasn't entirely prepared for the media storm that took place after she hoisted the trophy Thursday night in the Grand Hyatt ballroom in Washington, D.C."I'm really excited and this is really great," she said.

"But I'm tired and it's really busy."Kavya and her family â€" her father, Mirle, mother Sandhya, and sister Vanya â€" didn't get back to their hotel room until 11:30 p.m.

Eastern time.The competition, which aired live on ABC, didn't end until about 10:30 p.m.Kavya was awake and on the way to her first television appearance at 5 a.m.

Friday, and she had about a two hour break at noon before going to another interview at MSNBC.She then had to write a speech that she delivered at the Scripps awards ceremony that night.It was the beginning of what will be a week-long schedule of appearances and interviews.

Scripps will fly her to New York and Los Angeles before she returns to Olathe at the end of the week.Although "excited" about being the 2009 Champion, Kavya said her victory is bittersweet."I'm really going to miss spelling," she said.

"I'm really happy, but I'm sad that this is the end of my spelling career."Kavya began competitive spelling before she could even compete in the national bee.

She was the first champion of The Olathe News regional spelling bee, which began in conjunction with the Olathe school district in 2006.

And she continued to win for the next three years, representing The Olathe News and Olathe in Washington, D.C.At age 10, she placed 10th at the national bee.

She tied for eighth place the following year, and tied for fourth place in 2008.Mirle, who is Kavya's spelling coach, said they made changes to how Kavya studied and practiced spelling in preparation for this year's competition."I don't memorize words," Kavya said.

"We concentrated on word patterns, etymology, and usage of words."The study change was designed to help Kavya make it deeper into the finals and give her the chance to win, especially if she received a word that she had not studied before.She benefited from that change early in the fourth round of the semifinals."I didn't know the word, but I was able to spell it when I figured out the roots of the word."She successfully spelled "ergasia," and the rest was history.The words Kavya spelled in the competition: disciples (second round); mesophilic (third round); ergasia (fourth round); kurta (fifth round); escritoire (sixth round); hydrargyrum ( champion finals: round seven); blancmange (round eight); baignoire (round nine); huisache (round 10); ecossaise (round 11); diacoele (round 12); bouquiniste (round 13, championship words list); isagoge (round 14); phoresy (round 15); Laodicean (the word she spelled for the title).Next page >
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