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News / Northwest

Seattle middle-school student finishes 22nd in National Spelling Bee

By Vonnai Phair, The Seattle Times
Published: June 1, 2023, 7:41am

SEATTLE — An eighth-grade student at Seattle’s Lakeside Middle School finished 22nd in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Sanchali Bohacek was the only student from Washington to compete this week in the spelling contest. She rose to the national competition after winning the spelling bee at Lakeside in February and then winning the King/Snohomish County Regional Spelling Bee.

Her mother, Khushboo Bohacek, said Sanchali has had “a really good spirit” throughout the road to nationals — “she wanted to keep it as light and fun as possible.”

Sanchali joined 230 other spellers from across the world in the Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Maryland. All spellers earned their spots as national competitors by advancing through regional spelling bees, competing against students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe, as well as the Bahamas, Canada and Ghana, according to Scripps.

On Wednesday morning, 73 spellers, including Sanchali, competed in the quarterfinals.

The competition includes spelling rounds and vocabulary question rounds. Correctly answering the word-meaning question for the word “indomitable,” Sanchali became one of 56 spellers to advance to the semifinals.

Sanchali misspelled the word “dattock” — a tropical African tree — in the semifinals Wednesday. She spelled the word “D-A-T-U-K,” tying for 22nd place.

Although she didn’t make it to the finals, Sanchali remained grateful throughout the competition, her mom said, calling it an “amazing accomplishment” to reach the quarterfinals.

“She rocks,” her mom said. “I’m so proud of her, she did absolutely amazing.”

Sanchali is the leader of her school’s book club and a reporter for her school newspaper, according to her bio on the bee website.

When she was 12, Sanchali had her writing published in the American Library of Poetry’s 2021 poetry collection.

She enjoys reading, skiing and singing, and she recently taught herself to crochet through watching YouTube videos, her bio said.

Sanchali is a Taylor Swift fan, and her favorite book is “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende.

The finals will take place Thursday at 5 p.m. to determine who will take home the Scripps Cup.

Viewers can tune in at spellingbee.com/watch. Viewers can also stream the spelling bee on ION Plus and Bounce XL.