Corning-Area Sixth Grader Spells His Way Into Semifinals


The Scripps National Spelling Bee is an annual contest near Washington, D.C. This photo was taken in 2010.

A Corning-area sixth-grader reached the semifinal round of this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. Jairam Hathwar missed the finals by just one word: riegel. It’s a rock formation found in a glacial valley. Hathwar says he’d heard the word before.

“I’ve practiced it, but it just didn’t register to me at the time,” he says. “I made it to the first round, and then I got out during the second round of it.”

Hathwar tied for 22nd out of nearly 300 spellers. He says he spent a lot of time studying word lists, and he got some help practicing at home. Spelling is a family tradition.

“My brother did it last year and he won, so I wanted to try it too,” he says.

Hathwar didn’t clinch the top spot like his brother this time, but he says he’ll be back next year. No riegel is going to get in his way.