On Saturday, Giri said, a tense crowd of parents and students gathered at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham for the annual state bee.
“I was both excited and nervous at the same time” Giri said by phone Monday from Washington D.C., where she was on a school trip. She’ll return there May 28-30 for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
At the state bee in Birmingham, there were 20 rounds of competition lasting a total of five hours. The last six rounds narrowed to a duel between Giri and Houston City Middle School student Sarah Thompson.
Giri and Thompson had to battle through words ranging from “infinitesimal” to “heinousness,” going back and forth in a nail-biter that Giri described as “very nerve-wracking.” Ultimately, Giri clinched the win by correctly spelling “inaccurate.”
In addition to her trip to Washington in May, Giri’s win earned a pizza party for the Donoho eighth-grade class given by her sponsor, Adventure Travel, along with a dictionary and a trophy.
This wasn’t Giri’s first spelling session. She has participated in bees since the fifth grade.
Giri advanced to the Calhoun County Spelling Bee in her fifth- through eighth-grade years. She’s advanced to the state level each of the last three years but has never made it to the national bee.
“I always wanted to go to nationals,” Giri said, “so going this year was the perfect way to end my time with the spelling bee.”
Since Giri is an eighth-grader this will be the last year she is eligible to participate in spelling bees. Giri, however, almost did not pursue the activity for which she has won so much acclaim.
She remembers her parents thinking that she would not be interested in spelling bees when she was younger. It was a cursory viewing of the Scripps bee on TV one year that inspired Giri to go into spelling bees.
The national bee will be televised on ESPN, and Giri will be the first speller of the event, as Alabama comes first alphabetically.
Giri says she will prepare by reviewing root words and their origins, the information given to her by the Scripps bee organizers. Giri said she’s also received tips from last year’s Alabama state champion, Kevin Lazenby of Opelika.
Giri describes her family as “so excited” and said she feels ready to tackle the challenging words that will be presented to her at the competition.
“Everyone says I’m going out with a bang” she said.