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Himanvi Kopuri - 2013 State Champion!
Himanvi Kopuri, a 7th grader at Hamilton Middle School, is the 2013 Colorado State Spelling Bee Champion.  Runner-up Megan Takeda, is an 8th grader at Castle Rock Middle School.  Alex Jurich, a 7th grader from Hamilton finished in 3rd place and Leora Busse, also a 7th grader from Hamilton finished in 4th place.  Also in the top ten were DPS spellers Molly Berenbaum of Morey and Evie Jurich of Hamilton finishing tied for 8th place.  Here’s Himanvi’s story in her own words:               

Himanvi’s Story:

     My métier as a speller commenced in 2009 with ESPN.  I gazed upon the television screen as the bee proceeded into its nebulous journey.  As I watched, I could feel the tension, competition, encouragement, disappointment, and enthusiasm of the contestants.  I felt like I was indulged into the bee myself.  After a couple of hours it came down to the final two.  One speller misspelled her word and Kavya Shivashankar remained on the stage.  I vividly remember Kavya taking the allotted time to gracefully stroke each letter of the word "laodicean" onto her palm and ascertain if she was pondering the same word that was pronounced by Dr. Bailey.  She cautiously, confidently, and accurately enunciated the letters of the word and her father approached her to convey his congratulations along with his wife and youngest daughter.  It was a moment of incredible festivity and merriment.  Briskly, the broadcast ended and entered into commercials thus ending my spellbinding entertainment.  Who knew that these three hours of television would change the next three years of my life?

     During the next couple of weeks, I pestered my mom to convince my elementary school to start a spelling bee program so that I could begin competing as a fifth grader.  Unfortunately, despite how hard she tried, my school was reluctant to start the program.  Coincidently, another school, Southmoor Elementary, invited me to enter their Highly Gifted and Talented program.  We instantly took the offer since Southmoor also had a semantics program.  Over the summer I began studying words from a booklet called Spell It!  This put me ahead of the game when I joined Southmoor’s semantics team.  Next my teacher, Mrs. Teri Appell, as well as a fellow teammate, Riley Somo, recommended me to a coach, Mr. Schaefer.  After testing my spelling capability, Mr. Schaefer agreed to coach me.  He came to my house once every week for an hour and taught me new techniques and rules which helped me proceed to the Colorado State Spelling Bee.  In my first year at the state bee as a fifth grader, I became a finalist, finishing in 20th place after misspelling the word "parallax" by leaving out an "l."  I tried following the KISS rule but of course it didn’t apply to this word.

     However, this increased my passion for spelling.  Over the summer I attended the Summer Semantics program conducted by Mr. Schaefer where a group of spellers met and learned many new words and techniques in amusing and competitive ways.  I enjoyed this program very much and was determined to come back the following year.  After the summer Mr. Schaefer continued to coach me, and, now in 6th grade, I moved on to Hamilton Middle School.  Hamilton also has a terrific semantics class taught by Mrs. Lesley Meyer.  This enabled me to work on words every day at school as well as being constantly quizzed by my mother at home.  In the spring I again made it back to the Colorado State Spelling Bee.  This time I finished in second place.  I incorrectly spelled the word "billabong."  I left out an "l" AGAIN!  That summer I started working on the dictionary.  I studied all the words in Merriam Webster’s Third New International Dictionary except for those starting with the letters "c," "p," and "s."  Simultaneously I attended the Summer Semantics program to gauge myself against the other competitors.

     7th grade finally arrived and once again the Colorado State Spelling Bee.  Everyone had their hopes high on me which created a larger burden for me.  I took the written test that morning and later found out that I had attained a perfect score on it.  Then, it was time for the oral portion of the bee.  It was a long and tedious bee.  All the spellers were so adept!  Soon I was the only speller left on the stage.  I was given the word "oriel" meaning a large bay window.  I thought carefully about the word due to the fact it has a near homonym "oriole" the bird.  I scribbled the letters on my hand imitating my role model, Kavya.  Then I uttered each letter, "o-r-i-e-l, oriel."  Everyone broke into a cheer as I let out a humongous sigh of relief.  EUREKA!  YES!  I DID IT!    

     Now, it was time for me to prepare for my one and only chance of competing at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  I immediately commenced studying and reviewing several words.  A few days later, I received an email from Scripps informing me that there would be a vocabulary section incorporated into this year’s bee.  We also had a conference call to help us comprehend this drastic alteration.  At first, I was baffled.  Then, I was distraught.  Finally, I poised myself and kept striving.

     Two months later, I approached Bee Week (or as I call it, "The extraordinary Epoch of My Life").  It was a week that was pervaded with exuberance, new acquaintances, and memories.  It also included activities such as a barbecue, an awards ceremony, a banquet, a dance, and ultimately the bee.  All of the spellers were given a specific time to take their Preliminaries Test which was a 50-word test including spelling and vocabulary.  Later, we had our Preliminaries Oral Rounds.  I spelled "schnecke" correctly in the 2nd round and "hyalithe" correctly in the 3rd round.  I had no trouble with those words but I was a little anxious about my written test as I had no idea how the other competitors did.  That evening, I was announced a semifinalist.  I surpassed the primary level; now to the secondary level of the game.  Within a couple hours, all the semifinalists were congregated into a room to take our Semifinals Test.  The next morning were the semifinals Oral Rounds.  I successfully spelled my first word "stupefacient" as did my other Coloradoan peer, Eva Kitlen from Boulder.  We soon proceeded to the second round of the Semifinals and unfortuntely both Eva and I misspelled our words.  I was given the word "pancratiast" [pan-KRAY-shee-ast] meaning "an ancient Greek boxer or wrestler" and I incorrectly spelled it "p-a-n-c-r-a-s-i-a-s-t" which ended my spelling career.

     I was slightly disappointed at first but I soon realized that I should be content with my accomplishment.  The spelling bee is a game.  You can never anticipate what will happen to you, what word will be thrown at you, or how fortunate you are just to be there in the first place.  Due to all of these factors, winning isn’t what these competitions are truly about.  In my opinion the essence of these competitions is to educate you in things that will aid you in the future.  Throughout my spelling career I obtained hard working skills, studying skills, an immense knowledge of words, and the ability to persevere.  Everyone reaches a point in their spelling expedition when they’re ready to give up, but those of us who didn’t give up are the genuine victors.  You might not be the champion of the bee but you will always be champion of knowledge if you didn’t give up.

     In conclusion, I would like to thank my coaches Mr. Schaefer and Mrs. Meyer for supporting me and coaching me.  Also I would like to thank my parents who persuaded me to persevere and always encouraged me.  I would also like to thank the Denver Post, Hamilton Middle School, and all my peers for their support and elating me throughout my spelling career.  Lastly I would like to thank all my competitors who provided me with that most vital gift, memories!  

- Himanvi Kopuri

Click here to hear Himanvi’s speech at the 2014 Colorado State Spelling Bee.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zOZ3-FfEaM&feature=youtu.be
Himanvi Kopuri update 2017:  Himanvi will graduate from Cherry Creek High School this spring.  She will attend Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania next fall.  This year she has helped coach seven of our DPS state finalists including state champion Angelina Holm.


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