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Lamba Poised For National Bee

© Leesburg Today - 05/26/2015

Loudoun County's Shiv Lamba will face 285 of the nation's top spellers at the Scripps National Spelling Bee this week.

Every spelling bee kid has a favorite word.

Often it's those that have weird pronunciations, such as flibbertigibbet or sphygmomanometer.

But Shiv Lamba's most cherished word is pretty simple: agama. It refers to a genus of old world terrestrial lizards, but to the 14-year-old Loudoun Country Day School student, it means so much more.

""It's the word that I won the regional spelling bee with,"" he said in an interview this week. ""But my favorite word might change if I do well at the national competition.""

Shiv out-spelled 73 other elementary and middle school students to be crowned the Loudoun County Regional Spelling Bee champion in March. The victory secured him a spot at the 88th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee this week in Washington, DC.

Since his regional win, Shiv has spent most of his free time prepping to face 285 of the nation's top spellers. He's studied a list of 450 words sent to participants from the national bee officials, as well as 3,500 words in a book that's become a trusted resource to many spellers, ""SAT Spelling Bee Words and Sentences.""

Spellers have to pass a vocabulary test before they can even make it to the stage, and Shiv has heeded the advice of those who've gone before him and spent hours going over vocabulary as well as memorizing the spellings of the trickiest words, usually during his 30-minute commute to and from soccer practice.

""I study then and whenever I have free time,"" Shiv said. ""I don't know how everybody else is preparing, but I think I'm prepared.""

Loudoun Country Day School English teacher Abby Weiss described the youngster as a conscientious and meticulous student, and those attributes can come in handy when preparing to spell almost any word.

""He works very hard to do well,"" she wrote in an email. ""Regardless of how he does at the national bee, I want him to know that all of us at LCDS are extremely proud of him and rooting for him!""

Shiv said that he's ""a little nervous"" to spell on national TV, but that he regularly reminds himself that, ""it's a good experience and just a friendly competition.""

And he's certainly not going at it alone. His classmates at the private school in Leesburg have told him that they plan to gather around their TVs to watch the competition and cheer him on. The bee's semifinal round will air on ESPN2 on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the championship round will air from 8 to 10 that night on ESPN.

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