Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Ottawa Hills student, like sister, spells way to victory


Nirbhay Jain, left, a student at Ottawa Hills Junior High School, correctly spells semainier on his way to winning last night s Blade Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee. The runner-up was Ashley Chapman, right, of St. Aloysius School in Bowling Green. She misspelled the French-based word for a tall, seven-drawer chest.


To everyone else, cacodyl is an arsenical radical whose compounds are noted for their vile smell and poisonous properties.

To Nirbhay Jain, 12, his correct spelling of the word last night at the 2006 Blade Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee fulfills a long-held goal and continues a family history of winning.

Oh, and the seventh grader at Ottawa Hills Junior High will travel to Washington for the National Spelling Bee the week of May 28, his expenses paid by The Blade.

I think he s amazing, said his sister, Priyanka, 16, an Ottawa Hills High School student.

She was the Northwest Ohio Spelling Bee champion in 2001 and 2002 and competed in the national event. Nirbhay, at 10, was the runner up of the 2004 northwest Ohio bee.

He studied words 45 minutes a day the last six months with his mother, Juhi. He wanted to make it to the national competition, just as his sister did.

Still, it was nerve racking, he said, as his parents congratulated him after the event at Owens Community College.

The first runner-up last night was Ashley Chapman, 14, an eighth grader at St. Aloysius School in Bowling Green. She and four others survived to the final round after 90 minutes of spelling that began with a field of about 55 students from schools across the region.

Spelling comes naturally to Ashley, the daughter of Richard and Andrea Chapman.

She reads a lot, her father said. We re very proud of her.

One contestant in the final round misspelled Ogygian (ancient: primeval). The next missed papillote (a greased paper wrapper in which food is cooked and served).

Ashley and Nirbhay remained standing.

I was really nervous, but I just tried to keep calm, she said. That way you can be able to guess better.

Ashley was caught by the pronunciation of the word semainier (of French origin, a tall chest with seven drawers for use in a bedroom or dressing room).

I really only wanted to do my best, she said. I never expected to get that far.

Nirbhay correctly spelled semainier as he had words in earlier rounds castanets, sphenoidal, echelon, vindaloo, aioli bent over the microphone and looking straight ahead.

I like to look at a blank spot to make me focus, he said afterward.

He then had to spell cacodyl for the championship. He asked moderator Mary Mackzum, head librarian of The Blade, for a definition. He mouthed the words, from memory, as she read.

That was a word I had a lot of problems with before, so I went over the word a lot, Nirbhay said.

Nirbhay, the son of Dr. Navin and Juhi Jain, qualified last year to take part in the National Geographic Bee in Washington. Earlier this year, he was part of an Ottawa Hills Junior High team that qualified for the state MATHCOUNTS competition.

It s just exciting, his mother said after the bee last night. But don t look for her to take part in any sort of parents spelling bee, despite her long hours of coaching Nirbhay.

I couldn t make it. I m a nervous wreck, she said. He s the calm one.

Nirbhay also will receive a Merriam-Webster Third New International Dictionary; a $100 savings bond; a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card, and a plaque.

Ashley will receive a Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary; a $35 Barnes & Noble gift card; a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate, and a plaque.

The second-runner up, Eric Cheng, a sixth grader at McCord Junior High School in Sylvania, will receive a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card; a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate, and a plaque.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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