7th Grader at GIIS Tokyo, Shantanu Edgaonkar, Clinches Victory at the National Spelling Bee Competition

Published on 08 Mar 2017
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Tokyo Campus, 6 March, 2017

Shantanu Edgaonkar (Class 7) was crowned the winner of the 8th Japan Times Spelling Bee on 4 March by correctly spelling ‘toxicosis’ and beating 36 other school participants from around the country. According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged, ‘toxicosis’ means "a pathological condition caused by the action of a poison or toxin."

It was a true moment of pride for GIIS Tokyo Campus and the Department of English as a whole. Congratulatory messages continued for days after the big win.

Shantanu will represent Global Indian International School (GIIS) Tokyo Campus and the country in the finals of the prestigious Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington in May. He will compete against 300 fellow spellers from around the world for the US$30,000 prize.

"I am delighted that I could participate at the international level and would like to learn as many words as I can," he said. He will go on to compete at the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. His preparation and confidence have helped him to tackle some really difficult words at the event.

The event started from 10:00 a.m. and continued till 5:00 p.m. and was covered live on Ustream, and also by some major national dailies, other than The Japan Times. It took place at The Japan Times Nifco Hall in Tokyo.

Shantanu also won several awards at the event. In addition to airfare and an all-expenses-paid trip to the United States, he also won: a trophy, Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, 1 year subscription to Britannica online premium, 1 year subscription to Merriam-Webster unabridged online, 2 books on American Fantastic Tales – (gifted by the US Embassy in Tokyo), a Journal from The New York Times, US$ 50 gift card for shopping on amazon and a gift of chocolate boxes from The Japan Times and a participation certificate.

The rules for the competition are similar to those applied in the U.S. competition. A given word must be spelt out loud after being read by the pronouncer. If a contestant misspells the word or takes too long, he or she is disqualified. Contestants are also permitted to ask the judges for a word’s definition, part of speech and language of origin, as well as an alternative pronunciation. They can also ask to hear it used in a sentence.

The school Principal personally called the parents of Shantanu and spoke to them and arranged for a token of appreciation for the winner to be handed to him during the next school assembly. She extended her best wishes to the champion for his participation at the international level.

Shantanu started preparing for the national level competition immediately after the school level was over on 27 January. He rigorously used smartphone applications like Merriam-Webster online and subscribed to Word Club, as suggested by the English Department Head, Ms. Sobia Ahmed.

Shantanu also took classes during and after school hours with his English teachers (Ms. Sobia and Mr. Stephen). Ms. Sobia also organized meetings with Shantanu’s parents and explained the significance of the competition. He was also given exercises and tests to do at home.

Shantanu was introduced to words from Latin, Arabic, Asian languages, French, Eponyms, German, Slavic languages, Dutch, Old English, New World languages, Japanese, Greek, Italian and Spanish by the teachers.

On 6 March, the Department of English at GIIS Tokyo arranged for a felicitation ceremony for Shantanu and his family. The entire Department of English, Shantanu’s class teacher, Ms. Nisha Reji and Shantanu’s parents, Mrs. and Mr. Edgaonkar were invited and applauded on the stage.  Ms. Sobia commenced the ceremony by informing the entire school about the sequence of events held on the day of the competition. She then requested the teachers to present a token of appreciation to Shantanu on behalf of the English department and another token on behalf of the school. Later Shantanu’s younger brother Shardul Edgaonkar from Class 3 also received a gift from the Department of English.

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