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Shijay Sivakumar, of Odessa, Texas, misspelled the word "connaraceous" in Round 8. He finished tied for 9th place.

Bowie Middle School’s Shijay Sivakumar makes Scripps Bee finals

Shijay Sivakumar, an 8th grader at Bowie Middle School, was among 12 competitors who made the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals on June 2.

Shijay advanced through the seventh round of the bee among a field of 234 spellers on Wednesday, June 1, correctly spelling the word “bandurria,” which is a Spanish stringed instrument of the lute family, according to the Ector County Independent School District. The contest featured students from all 50 states and beyond.

Shijay ultimately finished tied for 9th place after misspelling the word “connaraceous” in Round 8. Harini Logan, 14, from San Antonio, won this year’s Bee.

Shijay can clearly be proud of his accomplishment.

“Shijay is the Regional Spelling Bee champ from Odessa for three straight years but due to COVID-19, this is the first time in that stretch the national bee has been held in person,” according to his school district.

Shijay became interested in the Bee after a 2019 entry through the Bee’s RSVBee program, according to a profile by the Bee.

“He decided he was all-in on the Bee, even through a string of bad misses that he said felt like adversity that he had to overcome,” the Bee states.

Earning his spot in the final 12 was “pretty unreal,” Shijay said. “I’m living the dream right now. I’m just really grateful to be here.”

A Golden State Warriors fan, Shijay wore his Steph Curry sneakers to celebrate that both he and his favorite team will be in the finals together.

“Shijay also likes to read historical fiction about World War II and thinks he might want to be a cardiologist,” the Bee said.