PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Oregon’s top speller tied for 42nd at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this week — correctly lettering two words in front of a national audience of spellbound vocab hounds.
For Kabir Rathore Muthu — the winner of the Oregon Regional Spelling Bee, presented by the Pamplin Media Group and Comcast — the contest in the capital was a welcome trip to the hometown where he spent the first seven months of his life.
“It was actually really fun,” said Kabir, 13, when reached by phone at the airport on June 2. “It was really fun to do my best, and there were a lot of really, really good spellers.”
Kabir correctly spelled “politico” and “luminiferous” during rounds two and three of the bee before being eliminated based on his performance on the multiple choice portion of the contest.
Politico is shorthand for politician — and remains a trusty favorite of headline writers. Luminiferous, which is a bit more obscure, means capable of producing or transmitting light.
In an untelevised portion of the bee, Scripps tests players on the correct definition of words taken from anywhere in the dictionary, and also asks them to spell vocabulary taken from a list of 600 words.
In total, Kabir earned 24 points. But the cutoff was 28.
“I didn’t really like the Scantron stuff so much. It’s kind of laborious and it’s disappointing when you don’t know the word exactly, but I enjoyed spelling on stage,” Kabir explained. “It’s really fun when I get the word and ask the questions and spell it and don’t hear the bell ding.”
During his free time, Kabir explored D.C., visiting the Capitol Building, the U.S. Supreme Court and the National Geographic Museum’s new 3-D exhibit on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Kabir describes himself as an avid reader who particularly enjoys the Nat Geo magazine because of its focus on history.
With his six-day trip over, Kabir returns to Oregon to finish up his final week of seventh grade at Access Academy in Portland. He won the Regional Spelling Bee in March after correctly spelling the word “hersperid.”
Karthik Nemmani, a 14-year-old from Texas, was the overall champion of the Scripps Spelling Bee.