Henrico County VA
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C-h-a-m-p-i-o-n . . . again

Kannoth wins fourth straight spelling bee title

Four years ago as a nervous third-grader, Aditya Kannoth stepped to the microphone at Wilder Middle School and quietly started a dynasty.

Kannoth correctly spelled the word "unenforceable" to win the Henrico County Spelling Bee in the ninth round, outlasting nearly 60 other students representing each of the county's elementary and middle schools.

The following year, at Hungary Creek Middle School, Kannoth spelled "exhilarated" correctly to repeat as the county champion in a 15-round bee.

Last year at Hungary Creek, Kannoth spelled "immaculate" in the 13th round to win his third consecutive title.

But he wasn't done yet.

Last week at Hungary Creek, Kannoth outlasted dozens of opponents for the fourth straight year, this year spelling "surrealism" in the 19th round to earn a "four-peat" as county champion.

That Kannoth has excelled so consistently at the highest level perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise. Without any coaching or lessons from his parents, he taught himself to read at the age of 3. By the same age, he had memorized the names of all 50 states and knew their capital cities, his mother, Sarita, recalled recently.

"[In 2009] he came home and said he won his class bee, and we said, ‘Ok, great,’" Sarita Kannoth said. "Then he won the school bee, and then the county bee. We were completely amazed at that point."

His love of reading – a regular pastime at home – "is really what helps him," Sarita Kannoth said. "He's been reading much more than kids normally do at his age. We've let him read a couple of John Grisham books because we were running out of others."

Kannoth, who aspires to be either an engineer (like his father, Vinod) or a neurosurgeon, is driven by a competitive streak.

"Sometimes I don't like studying, but I really look forward to the competition," he said.

When he's not spelling, Kannoth enjoys playing a variety of sports (including tennis and basketball) and video games. He prepares for the spelling bee each year by studying list of words online.

During the competitions, he frequently asks for the definition and origin of a word to help provide himself with clues about its spelling. Then he attempts to visualize the word in his mind.

His advice to would-be spellers?

"First of all, just sound it out," he said. "Depending on the language, it will probably work – except if it's French. That's
harder to sound out."

Several times in the past four county spelling bees, that advice has helped him spell a word that at first seemed tricky, Kannoth said.

On March 10, Kannoth will again compete in the regional spelling bee at the Library of Virginia. This time, he's going with one thought in mind.

"I'm going to try to win it this year," he said.

The ultimate goal of competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. serves as another motivating factor for the young student.

"I've heard it's really nice," he said, "and that it's not just about spelling. They take you on tours and stuff like that."

And despite his success in spelling and interest in reading, Kannoth's favorite subject is math.

"It's pretty complex, challenging," he said.

In addition to being perhaps the most acclaimed scholastic speller in Henrico County history, Kannoth also sports one of the most impressive collections of dictionaries for a student his age. That's because the winner of the Henrico bee receives one each year.

"The very first year, he was fine with the prize," Sarita Kannoth recalled with a chuckle. "Then the next year he said, ‘Oh, I hope it's not a dictionary.’

"Now, we've got a collection of dictionaries."

That's "dictionaries:" D-i-c-t-i-o-n-a-r-i-e-s.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Film industry training program planned for this weekend

The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), in partnership with the Virginia Film Office, will offer "Get Your Start in the Film Industry," a two-day seminar designed to prepare workers for film, television and commercial projects in Virginia. The course will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Workforce Development and Conference Center, 1651 Parham Road in Henrico, on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The training will be taught by Gary Romolo Fiorelli, an accomplished assistant director for film and television projects, which include the television series Sons of Anarchy and ABC’s current drama Mistresses. > Read more.

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

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