Francis Parker School eighth-grader Snigdha Nandipati correctly spelled words in the second and third rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Wednesday to advance to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
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Snigdha spelled ringent, meaning having the mouth wide open, in the second round, then spelled lahar, a volcanic mudflow, in the third round.
The first round -- a 50-word computer spelling test, with 25 words counting toward their scores -- was held Tuesday, with each correct answer worth one point. The test scores are combined with the second- and third-round results to determine the maximum of 50 semifinalists from the original field of 278 competitors.
Snigdha tied for 27th in last year's bee, advancing to the fifth round, the only Californian to reach the semifinals. She was eliminated when she misspelled kerystic, which refers to a sermon.
The semifinal and championship rounds will be held Thursday, with a contestant eliminated after he or she misspells a word.
Snigdha is a member of her school's Science Olympiad team, participates in several math-related events, is a member of the school Yearbook Club, plays violin and is fluent in Telugu, which is spoken in parts of India.
"She's a terrific student," Francis Parker Middle School Principal Patricia McKenna told City News Service. "She's the sweetest, nicest girl."
Snigdha went to McKenna when she was in sixth grade and asked if the school could participate in the spelling bee competition, something it had not done in "a number of years," McKenna said.
"I put it to the English Department and said 'Hey, what do you think?'" McKenna said. "She had the materials, we looked at the website and the English teachers said it was a great idea. They did the organization for the school-wide spelling bee, but it was all at Snigdha's motivation. She was really determined to see if she could get it organized here."
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