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Meet The Six Kansas City Area Kids Headed To The National Spelling Bee

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Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place this week in Washington, D.C., and the Kansas City area will be represented by six youth from middle schools across the region.

Two local competitors received international media attention for their marathon battle to represent Jackson County, but besides Kush Sharma, who won that battle, five other students are also representing the Kansas City area in the national competition.

Here are the six kids to root for as the National Spelling Bee commences:

Ethan Perris

Age: 13

Grade: 8th grade

School: Southwest Middle School, Lawrence, Kan.

Previous competition: It’s his first time competing at the national level.

Winning word in the local spelling bee: disembark

What he does besides spelling: Ethan sings in a choir and plays the cello. He hopes to become an Eagle Scout this fall.

Kush Sharma

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Credit Scripps National Spelling Bee
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Scripps National Spelling Bee
Kush Sharma

Age: 13

Grade: 8th grade

School: Frontier School of Innovation, Kansas City, Mo.

Previous competition: It’s his first time competing at the national level, but he went 90 rounds in the Jackson County Spelling Bee.

Winning word in the local spelling bee: definition

What he does besides spelling: Besides international media appearances, Kush likes to play video games and owns a Chihuahua named Poppy.

Julianna Sonnik

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Credit Scripps National Spelling Bee
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Scripps National Spelling Bee
Julianna Sonnik

Age: 11

Grade: 5th grade

School: Sedalia Middle School, Sedalia, Mo.

Previous competition: None, it’s the first year she is eligible.

A Winning word in the local spelling bee: slaughter

What she does besides spelling: Julianna likes painting, drawing, and reading and her first language is Russian.

Peyton Wiewel

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Credit Scripps National Spelling Bee
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Scripps National Spelling Bee
Peyton Wiewel

Age: 12

Grade: 6th grade

School: Plaza Middle School, Kansas City, Mo.

Previous competition: It’s her first time going to Washington, D.C. for the spelling bee.

Winning word in the local spelling bee: bolero

What she does besides spelling: Peyton is a voice actress and competitive figure skater.

Sterling Hollond

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Credit Scripps National Spelling Bee
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Scripps National Spelling Bee
Sterling Hollond

Age: 13

Grade: 7th grade

School: Basehor-Lindwood Middle School, Basehor, Kan.

Previous competition: Competed in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Winning word in the local spelling bee: acquiescence

What he does besides spelling: Sterling lives on a farm and raises three chickens. He also plays lacrosse, basketball, and hockey.

Vanya Shivashankar

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Credit Scripps National Spelling Bee
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Scripps National Spelling Bee
Vanya Shivashankar

Age: 12

Grade: 7th grade

School: California Trail Middle School, Olathe, Kan.

Previous competition: Competed in 2010, 2012, and tied for 5th in 2013.

Winning word in the local spelling bee: saturnine

What she does besides spelling: An international traveler, Vanya has tried paragliding in Switzerland and skeet shooting in Scotland.

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