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Charlotte 8th Grader Makes It Into Top 25 In Scripps National Spelling Bee


An 8th grader at Randolph Middle School made it into the top 25 spellers at the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Akshra Paimagam, 14, finished 23rd in the national competition.

It was her second time competing the annual event. In 2015, she made it into the semifinals and placed 39th. During this year's competition, broadcast on ESPN, she correctly spelled words like 'conveyance' and 'sorbitol' before getting stumped on 'panettone,' meaning a yeast-leavened holiday bread containing raisins and candied fruit peels.

After asking for the pronunciation, definition, language of origin (Italian), use in a sentence, and for the definition to be repeated, she began spelling with seconds left on the clock.

ESPN commentators noted that Italian words can trip spellers up with unpredictable double consonants.

Paimagam seemed to sense this, pausing after spelling the letters P-A-N -- seeming to struggle internally as to whether the word required another 'N.'

After a momentary delay, she decided to try it, proceeding with the letters N-E-T-T-O-N-E.

The bell rang, and the announcer gave the correct spelling. Paimagam thanked the announcer and the audience applauded.

As an 8th grader, Paimagam will no longer be eligible to compete in future spelling competitions, but she'll not suffer from any lack of future pursuits. In an interview, Paimagam tells WFAE she's also an active violinist, ballet dancer, and occasional painter.

Listen to that interview, conducted last week before Paimagam left for Washington, here.