Local Student in National Spelling Bee Semis

spelling bee
Faizan Zaki, 11, from Allen, Texas, reacts during the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee. 231 spellers representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe competed in this year's competition. | Image by Josh Morgan, USA TODAY

Allen’s own Faizan Zaki secured his spot in the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday morning.

As The Dallas Express reported, several North Texas students qualified for this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee held May 30 to June 1 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Zaki, a fifth grader at Skaggs Elementary School in Plano; Sriya Gomatam, a seventh grader from Coppell Middle School; and Brihasa Veduru, a 10-year-old student from Bear Creek Intermediate in Keller joined 231 contestants from across the nation.

Competitors between the ages of 9 and 14 have been battling it out over a first-place prize of $50,000 in cash, a commemorative trophy, and more.

Having passed the preliminary rounds on Tuesday and the quarterfinals on Wednesday, 11-year-old Zaki now faces off against 55 other students, including five other Texans.

This is Zaki’s second time competing in the national competition, having secured a spot once before as a 7-year-old, according to The Dallas Morning News.

He already beat his previous performance by successfully spelling the word “crore” — an Indian unit of value for 10 million — and selected the correct definition of the word “screed” — a long, often ranting speech — in a multiple-choice question.

“I’ve never heard the word before,” Zaki admitted after the round ended, according to the DMN. “I eliminated choice B and was left with A and C and I just took an educated guess.”

After spending some time with friends and studying, Zaki will compete again Wednesday afternoon to determine whether he makes it to the finals on June 1.

Alongside Zaki, Veduru, one of the few 10-year-olds in the competition, made it into the quarterfinals with her correct spelling of “pahoehoe,” a Hawaiian term used to describe smooth hardened lava.

While she managed to spell “colonnette” — a slender column — correctly, she failed to select the right meaning of “innuendo,” or an insinuation.

Gomatam also had a strong showing, making it through the first two rounds of the preliminaries by correctly spelling “attacca” — a musical term for continuing to the next movement at the close of another without pause — and identifying “plasterboard” as the right synonym for “gypsum.”

Gomatam tripped up when trying to spell the word “hogsteer” — a young wild boar.

While Zaki tries his best to successfully pass the next grueling round, he stands as one of several Texas students performing well at the annual spelling championship.

Historically, Texas students have done well, with Harini Logan of San Antonio winning first place last year.

As The Dallas Express reported, Logan took home the prize after facing 12-year-old Vikram Raju from Denver in the competition’s first-ever spell-off.

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