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.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
If the snow last weekend had you stuck at home, then you will appreciate free admission all weekend long at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! Other free options this weekend include a Classic Family Film series at Varina Library, “Crafternoon” at Libbie Mill Library and the tenth annual Richmond Jewish Food Festival taking place Sunday and Monday at the Weinstein JCC. Concert options include the 8th annual Djangoary Music Soiree at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen and Flight Risk, performing at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Henrico County Community Author Showcase, a program that connects writers and readers in the community, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue on the second Monday and every Thursday of the month at various libraries. Angela Wood and Natasha Tabon will share their children’s book “The Misadventures of Tood and Taboon: Lost in the Forest” at Varina Library. For details, visit http://www.henricolibrary.org/authors. Full text