A Chesterfield middle school student has made it to the finals of the National Spelling Bee. Thirteen-year old Gokul Venkatachalam has made it through five rounds of public spelling contests and has scored highly enough on computerized tests to be one of 12 who will compete for the trophy and scholarships tonight.

The Bee’s website bio of Gokul notes, “One of Gokul’s hobbies is photography, so it’s no surprise that he hopes he can someday visit Hawaii to take in the gorgeous scenery and capture it with his camera. He also spends time watching basketball, and he looks up to Miami Heat forward LeBron James. Wonder by R.J. Palacio is his favorite book, and he likes both rap and alternative music, from artists like Eminem and Imagine Dragons. Gokul also enjoys action movies, especially the hilarious 21 Jumpstreet. Gokul tied for 10th place in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee and tied for 19th place in 2013.”

He had little trouble sailing through the words in today’s semifinal two rounds with

                                        AUDIO: spell1

and following it up with

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The other two Missourians who had made it to the semifinal round were Jade Samanta of Cape Girardeau, who went out in the day’s first round, the Bee’s fourth.

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and Faaris Khan of Columbia, who made it through the first round today with “amontillado,” a type of wine many will recall as part of an Edgar Allen Poe story, but stumbled on a word meaning “sunburn,” but sounding the same as the skin ailment Faaris spelled.

                                           AUDIO: speller4

Gokul and the other eleven finalists are on the National Spelling Bee’s webpage:


The championship rounds will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on ESPN.