Best in county

SOUNDING IT OUT— Arth Dalsania says he was tripped up in the televised Scripps National Spelling Bee by the spelling of “katuka,” the name of a venomous snake of Asia. Courtesy of Scripps National Spelling Bee

SOUNDING IT OUT— Arth Dalsania says he was tripped up in the televised Scripps National Spelling Bee by the spelling of “katuka,” the name of a venomous snake of Asia. Courtesy of Scripps National Spelling Bee

It was the 11th round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals, and the ring of the bell announced to eighth-grader Arth Dalsania that his time to return home had come.

Out of the 231 spellers in the United States, he finished in eighth place, making him one of the most successful competitors in Ventura County history.

Arth said he is proud of his hard work and looks forward to achieving even more.

“As your spelling bee journey comes to an end, we know that you will continue to challenge yourself,” head judge Mary Brooks told Arth during the June 1 televised event. “And please do go out there and do what you want to do, which is to solve the world’s problems with science.”

Arth, who recently graduated from CAPE Charter School in Camarillo, participated in his first class spelling bee in third grade.

“I was looking for a challenge,” he said. “I found it as an outlet for my curiosity.”

He soon realized how rewarding the competitions could be.



“Each word is its own puzzle that you have to try to solve,” Arth said. “When you get a word right, it’s the best feeling.”

In fifth grade he won his class bee. And in sixth grade, he won his class, school and county bees before placing 43rd in the nationals.

But Arth was determined to improve and spent months preparing.

He studied the linguistic patterns of Latin and Greek, and he buried himself in books like “Words of Wisdom: Keys to Success in the Scripps National Spelling Bee” and “Sesquipedalia!: A Rigorous Vocabulary Study Guide.”

Kevin Prendergast, Arth’s math and home room teacher at CAPE, said the teen dedicated his free time to honing his skills.

“He has worked extremely hard to be successful in this discipline like he does in just about anything he takes up,” Prendergast said. “He was so self-motivated to do well, and that is why he went so incredibly far.”

That hard work paid off as Arth once again won his class, school and county spelling bees, earning his spot in the nationals. This year, the competition was held in National Harbor, Maryland.

In addition to visiting Mount Vernon and the White House with his parents and sister, he spent time with other spellers who shared his love of learning.

Seeing other spellers leave the bee because of words he also didn’t know how to spell was the most anxiety-inducing part of the experience, Arth said. He had to teach himself to focus only on his word rather than the camera or countdown.

“Once you get to the nationals, it’s a whole different feeling,” Arth said. “The words that come around are so hard that you just feel lucky you got one you could spell.”

Arth said he relied on two strategies when he was given a word he wasn’t familiar with: the phonetic approach of using the sound of the word to determine the spelling, or the morphemic approach of using the meaning of the word to determine the spelling.

The techniques helped him successfully spell words like “congelifraction,” “anabibazon” and “mythologem.” But when he heard the word “katuka”—a venomous snake of southeastern Asia—he mistook the second vowel for an “a.”

At 14, Arth has aged out of spelling bees and is ready to explore new challenges.

“The great thing about spelling is that you can apply it to any subject,” he said. “The things you learn aren’t really the words themselves but how to work hard on your study skills and mainly to have faith in the hard work you’ve done.”

In the fall, Arth will begin his freshman year at Newbury Park High School. He plans to play violin in the school’s orchestra and is interested in competing in the academic decathlon or psychics olympiad.

He hopes to have a successful career in STEM, potentially as an astrophysicist.

“I really like using science to solve problems and change the way we think,” Arth said.

Makena Huey is on Twitter @MakenaHuey.