WASHINGTON – At the age of 11,Sami Hashmi has accomplished a lot. And beginning Wednesday,he intends to add wining the 78th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee to his long list of accomplishments.
“I'm really excited to be going to Washington,D.C.,because I've never been there before,” Sami said last week.
A fifth grader at Saint Edward’s Lower School in Vero Beach,Fla.,Sami is described by teacher Barbara Westfield,spelling bee coordinator at Saint Edward's Lower School,as a great young man.
“Sami is an outstanding,conscientious person. Overall he is just delightful,” Westfield said. “He has no problem with separating the two languages he speaks. He is a serious young man who strives to achieve his goals.”
Sami was born in New York and speaks Urdu and English. He has relatives in Pakistan.
A straight-A student,Sami likes to stay busy. He plays baritone (similar to a trumpet) in the school band and is a member of the student council. He doesn't compete just in spelling bees. Sami participated in the Academic Games National Tournament in Baton Rouge,La.,in April.
Sami qualified for this year's National Spelling Bee by wining the countywide spelling bee. He won his school's spelling bee for the second year in a row. But last year,he did not win the county spelling bee. Sami followed the path of his older brother,Fahim,who represented his school in the regional bee several times.
“I really didn't do anything differently when studying for this year's spelling bee,” Sami said. “I try to study from the Paideia every morning.”
The Paideia is the National Spelling Bee's official word guide.
Spellers take a written test Wednesday morning. Next,all 273 entrants compete in the first oral round. After those two rounds,many of the spellers will be eliminated,based on a score combining the first two rounds.
Those who remain compete in two more oral rounds Wednesday afternoon,in which a misspelled word eliminates the speller. ESPN will broadcast Thursday's competition,with a winner expected by late afternoon.
First prize is $22,000,a $5,000 scholarship,a savings bond and a reference library.
Despite all of his accomplishments,Sami is concerned about the upcoming competition.
“I'm kind of worried about the spelling bee because there is going to be a lot of good competition,” Sami said. “I'm concerned because everyone else won their county,so they must be good too.”