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Dev Shah is one of 11 competing in national spelling bee finals

June 1, 2023

Dev competing in the spelling beeMorgan Fitzgerald eighth grader Dev Shah has been here before. But not HERE.

In 2019, Shah tied for 51st place in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and in 2021 he tied for 76th place. Tonight, he is set to compete as one of only 11 finalists in the country in the live finale at 8 p.m.

“It balances out because even though I’ve been here twice before, this is also my last chance,” said Shah, who is at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland with his mom, dad, brother and grandmother for the competition. “I want to win.”

According to Morgan Fitzgerald Principal Ija Hawthorne, Shah sent her an email the August prior to him entering sixth grade, to inquire about hosting a schoolwide spelling bee when he became a student. She agreed and they’ve been holding the bee ever since. Dev always wins, but makes the event more about his classmates.

“He’s very humble. But also very much a school leader,” Hawthorne said. “He has lost lots of spelling bees, but he’s resilient and won’t quit.”

Dev at the spelling bee

The national qualifiers advanced through local and regional bees that took place through early April and began the competition in Maryland with the preliminaries on Tuesday, May 30. Spellers are between 9 and 14 years old.

Shah correctly spelled ardoise, cocomat and exhortation and defined grotesqueness in rounds one through four in the preliminaries. In rounds five and six, he correctly defined glower and spelled perioeci. In round seven, he correctly identified who would practice “legerdemain” (a magician) and in round eight, the last of the semi-finals, he correctly spelled poliorcetics.

“He’s a dream catcher,” Hawthorne said. “He’s been wanting to do this for a while. He’s a very driven individual. I think that comes from being very grateful to be here and grateful to be able to compete.”

The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals will air live on ION at 8 p.m. tonight.