San José, California September 2011 Did you hear the buzz…about the best among the brightest? San José, CA — This Labor Day weekend, San José State University was bursting with the brightest students from all across America buzzing around from one bee to another. This is because the North South Foundation (NSF) held its National Championship Finals at this venue. The contest boasted over 1,300 contestants, all of whom received top ranks from the regional contests held in March and April. All the students that qualified from the regional contests were invited to compete in this Labor Day weekend national competition. Language related contests, such as the Spelling, Vocabulary, Essay Writing, and Public Speaking Bees were held on Saturday, September 3rd. On the other hand, the Math, Geography, Brain Bee, and for the first time, the Science Bees were held on Sunday, September 4th. These events are conducted by North South Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote excellence in human endeavors, develop human resources, and help people achieve success regardless of religion, gender, caste, geographic origin by giving hope to those who may have none. The educational contests in America are designed to encourage excellence among IndianAmerican children to better prepare and compete with their peers in their academic pursuits. In addition to hosting educational contests in the United States, the Foundation disperses scholarships to deserving students in India, poor in money, but rich in merit, regardless of religion, gender, caste or creed. North South Foundation is all run by volunteers with no payroll. With a single minded focus, the founder, Dr. Ratnam Chitturi, has fostered this enterprise for over 20 years by providing a platform for a generation of committed and passionate volunteers. Due to the tireless efforts of Dr. Murali Gavini in the earlier the years and the founder in the later years, increasing opportunities were provided for contestants to demonstrate superior academic performance. Many prior NSF winners have been admitted into top ranking schools such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford, as well as dominated in the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee. Just within the last four years, Sameer Mishra (2008), Kavya Shivashankar (2009), Anamika Veeramani (2010) and Sukanya Roy (2011) have all placed first in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Other former NSF participants also have won accolades in MATHCOUNTS and the National Geographic Bee. Furthermore, this year's Bee Champions were lauded by chief guest Mr. Tom Torlakson, the 27th State Superintendent of Public Instruction of California in the awards ceremony held on Sunday evening. In an era of declining quality in education in general and SAT scores in particular, the Foundation's efforts are noteworthy in empowering children to excel in a variety of academic subjects, starting right from the first grade. NSF introduced online math coaching couple of years ago. It has become quite popular with 60 volunteer coaches signing up this year. The Foundation introduced science program two years ago. The science program is offered early on to children as young as first grade. Through early exposure, NSF hopes to inculcate interest in the science subject. One of the crown jewels of NSF is the Senior Spelling Bee, a very prestigious contest out of all NSF bees. The best of the best compete round after round until elimination in the challenging third phase. This year, Stuti Mishra (Jacksonville, FL) took home the first place trophy with the winning San José, California September 2011 word feretory. The second and third place winners were Narahari Bharadwaj (Dallas, TX) and Syamantak Payra (Houston, TX), respectively. In the Junior Spelling Bee, the young participants knew the spelling of words well beyond their years. In first place, Roshini Kainthan (Marlboro, NJ) took home the prize. Runners up were Shourav Dasari (Houston, TX) in second place and Raksheet Kota (Houston, TX) in third place. The following are the winners in all other contests: Junior Vocabulary Bee 1 Rohan Roplekar, Peoria, IL 2 Mantra Dave, Bloomington, IL 3 Navya Gautam, Rockville, MD Intermediate Vocabulary Bee 1 Mihir Nene, Stamford, CT 2 Anjali Nambrath, Marlboro, NJ 3 Surabhi Iyer, Worcester, MA Math Bee Level 1 1 Soham Konar, Columbus, OH 2 Roshni Kainthan, Marlboro, NJ 3 Neel Basu, San Diego, CA Math Bee Level 2 1 Akshaj Kadaveru, Fairfax, VA 2 Stuti Garg, Portland, OR 3 Sanjana Ramrajvel, Hinsdale, IL Math Bee Level 3 1 Shohini Stout, Cambridge, MA 2 Saranesh Prembabu, San Ramon, CA 3 Abhinand Sivaprasad, Seattle, WA Junior Geography Bee 1 Arjun Nathan, San José, CA 2 Rohith Paranji, Detroit, MA 3 Abhinav Karthikeyan, Rockville, MD Senior Geography Bee 1 Karthik Karnik, Worcester, MA 2 Asha Jain, Madison, WI 3 Varun Mahadevan, Palo Alto, CA Senior Essay Writing Bee 1 Smitha Gundavajhala, San José, CA 2 Venkat Rd Munukutla, Palo Alto, CA 3 Ramya Auroprem, San José, CA Senior Public Speaking Bee 1 Venkat Rd Munukutla, Palo Alto, CA 2 Arun Ponshunmugam, Jacksonville, FL 3 Priyanka Menon, Detroit, MI Junior Science Bee 1 Vaibhav Sharma, Fairfax, VA 2 Varun Chheda, Indianapolis, IN 3 Pratham Soni, Detroit, MI Intermediate Science Bee 1 Anna Nixon, Portland, OR 2 Achyut Reddy, Philadelphia, PA 3 Krithik Vallem, Detroit, MI Senior Science Bee 1 Saranesh Prembabu, San Ramon, CA 2 Abhijit Mudigonda, Portland, OR 3 Dheeresh Maddu, Dallas, TX Brain Bee 1 Ankita Nallani, Detroit, MI 2 Sanjana Salwi, Marlboro, NJ 3 Abhijit Mudigonda, Portland, OR San José, California September 2011 From our Senior Spelling Bee Champion… NSF got together with Senior Spelling Bee Champion, Stuti Mishra, to talk about her spelling career, interests, and what lies in the future after her exciting win. Stuti is going into 8th grade and lives in West Melbourne, FL. She is an avid swimmer and is “open to anything, really” in terms of career choice. Some of her favorite words are dhyana (because it is her sister’s name), which refers to meditation and hemidemisemiquaver, another name for a sixty-fourth note in music. Stuti is one of many NSF contestants who have competed in the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee. A semifinalist at the 2011 Bee where former NSF contestant Sukanya Roy took home the trophy, she placed 19th. Stuti “had a lot of fun there” and is “really excited about going again.” She particularly enjoys the humorous sentences given as examples for the words -- Stuti laughingly recounts how she received the sentence of “I like to go home and listen to my mellisonant voice” for the word mellisonant. Stuti says that she felt “happy and really excited” after she won at the NSF finals. When we asked her how much she prepared, she says that she did “as much as she could do every day” and tried to get in about 2 hours a day after school started. She says that studying spelling interests her because “it’s not always about learning words, but it also involves learning about different cultures and languages as well.” From our Math Level 3 Champion… Shohini Stout is the Math Level 3 Champion and lives in Lexington, MA. She started participating in the NSF math contests since 3rd grade. Now she is in 9th grade. She says her father had motivated and inspired her to focus on math. For advice to others, she says, "Math is for fun, and happens to be quite useful as well. But never assume that math is just schoolwork. There’s a real beauty in math, and if you put the effort in, you will love it." To girls, she says, " There is no difference in mental capacity between girls and boys, so how come girls make up far less than half of top competitors in math? Please help and join the quest to show that girls can be just as good as boys in math!" NSF was started over 22 years ago with the purpose of providing educational scholarships to needy children who display academic excellence in India. NSF funds these scholarships by raising funds in the US through spelling bees and direct donations. The NSF Scholarship program is designed to encourage excellence among the poor children who excel academically but need financial help to attend college. Each scholarship is $250 per student per year. NSF has distributed more than 6,000 scholarships to students who need financial support to pursue their quest for knowledge in engineering, medicine, polytechnic, science and other fields. The scholarship is an annual award and not a one-time payment. The student is eligible for the scholarship until graduation as long as San José, California September 2011 he/she maintains high academic standards. The local chapters in various states of India invite applications from students, screen them and select the neediest students who eventually become NSF scholarship recipients. NSF recently signed an MOU with Jawahar Nayodaya Vidyala Samiti to provide NSF scholarships to the needy students and conduct educational contests among their 600 schools across the country. The NSF Championship Finals were sponsored in part by individuals, foundations and corporations. Cognizant was a Gold Sponsor this year. For more information about the NSF activities, you can visit www.northsouth.org or contact Dr. Ratnam Chitturi at 630-323-1966.