Can You Spell 'Laodicean'?


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While most people would find it difficult to pronounce, let alone spell the word 'Laodicean', 13-year old Kavya Shivshankar from Kansas, had no problems rattling off the letters with ease.

With that final word, which means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics, the eight-grader became the 2009 Spelling Bee Champion, a title that has eluded her for three years. In her previous attempts, Kavya finished tenth, eighth and third respectively. Along with her title, she also earned a cool $40,000 in cash and prizes, as well as, a huge trophy.

The youngster, who just celebrated her 13th birthday is now considering entering the 'Brain Bee', a science contest, which would be perfect training grounds for the budding neurosurgeon. However, prior to that she is going to plan a belated party for her 13th birthday, which she had no time to celebrate, due to the competition.

Twelve-year old Tim Ruiter of Centerville, Virginia, the youngest finalist came in second, after he tripped over the word 'maecenas', which means cultural benefactor. Aishwarya Pastpur from Springfield Illinois came in third. Her nemesis was the word 'menhir', which is a type of monolith (mountain). The biggest upset of the contest was when last year's runner-up Sidharth Chand from Michigan misspelt 'apodyterium' (entry into public baths in ancient Rome). The youngster, who had been the favorite for the title, got a standing ovation from the audience as he left the podium.

The Spelling Bee now in its 82nd year, is sponsored by E.W. Scripps, a company that owns national newspapers and television stations. The competition attracts spellers from all over the world, and this year's record entry of 293 finalists included kids from China, Canada, Jamaica and even Ghana. To check out how to qualify for the Spelling Bee or read more about the finalists check out,,the

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