I’m a Tulsa Kid: Sai Lakkimsetti
Lakkimsetti will represent Tulsa at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
This year 9-year-old Sai Lakkimsetti, a 3rd grader from Jenks Southeast Elementary, will be representing Tulsa at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. Sai has always had a connection with words — his early phonetic skills helped him read books as early as age 3. He feels that spelling study gives him opportunities to learn and discuss new topics with his dad, mom and little sister. Learning and reading has taught Sai about the world as well as other languages.
TK: What is the Scripps Green Country Regional Spelling Bee?
Sai Lakkimsetti: The Scripps Green Country Regional Spelling Bee is a spelling competition sponsored by KJRH -TV and its partners for kindergarten through eighth-grade students in northeastern Oklahoma. This year there were over 50 participants competing for the championship. The winner goes to the Scripps National Spelling Bee at D.C. in May.
TK: Is this your first time to enter a spelling bee?
Sai: I have participated in spelling bees before. Last year, I placed first in my school spelling bee and second in the Scripps Green Country Regional Spelling Bee.
TK: What was your winning word, and how did it feel to win?
Sai: My winning word was bottine. I was expecting many more rounds to go. I was more than thrilled when they said, “Congratulations, you are the champion!” My next thought was my sweet little sister (Sreeya) was right! She wished me luck and said I would be the champion this time.
TK: What’s next in the competition?
Sai: Next, I will be heading to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. in May. I will be competing with other champion spellers from across the U.S. and other countries.
TK: How do you study for a spelling bee?
Sai: I think it is very difficult to learn all the words in the dictionary. I study by looking up the roots and languages of origin of interesting words. I use the Merriam Webster unabridged online dictionary to research words. In my case, I was very blessed to have been taught the language rules for spelling by Mrs. Fergerson and Mrs. Rojas at our spelling club in school. I am also very fortunate to have guidance from previous spelling champions.
TK: Any advice for future spellers?
Sai: My advice is to look at spelling as a fun way to learn about food, cultures, science, history and geography. Enjoy the process of learning. While on the spelling stage, try to stay calm and focused.
TK: Who inspires you?
Sai: Bill Gates inspires me as he is a highly successful entrepreneur as well as a great philanthropist. When I won the 1000 dollars cash prize for winning the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee, my parents welcomed my choice to contribute 500 dollars towards building my school’s STEM lab.
TK: What are your hobbies?
Sai: My hobbies are reading fiction books, playing on XBOX, swimming and playing tag with my little sister.
TK: What are your plans and goals for the future?
Sai: My short-term plan is to do my best at the upcoming spelling bee in May. My goal for the future is to become a neurosurgeon and help people suffering with medical complications of the brain and spinal cord.
TK: What is a fun fact about you?
Sai: In addition to English, I can also speak, read and write in Chinese! (I am in the Chinese immersion program at Jenks SE Elementary since the beginning of 3rd grade.)