Ten-year-old Rojon Karn found his “niche” — winning the Schenectady City School District’s Elementary Spelling Bee.
Karn, a fifth-grader at Martin Luther King Magnet School, successfully spelled niche, then “simulcast” to capture the crown Tuesday at Mont Pleasant Middle School.
He admitted he was a little nervous when the roughly 40 spellers entered the auditorium. However, he relaxed when he saw it wasn’t a full house — just some family and school staff members in attendance.
Karn had been practicing for weeks with his father, Bawan.
“Every night, I studied a couple of words, and my dad tested me on it,” he said.
Bawan Karn said that “niche” was actually one of the words they had reviewed. He taught his son ways to sound out words he didn’t know to help with the spelling. He also studied the dictionary.
His parents said they were very proud of his accomplishment.
“I was more nervous than him, but he did a great job,” said mother Ruby Karn.
The competition was fierce, but there was not an atmosphere of “panickiness.” The contestants were under “duress” as the “onslaught” of words kept coming. Only two competitors were eliminated after the first round. Then, little by little, more were tripped up by words like “livelihood,” “embryo” and “damageable.”
Second place went to Anna Blanchfield, 10, of Central Park International Magnet School, while third place went to Shatisha Providence, 11, of Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School.
Providence said she had been practicing whenever she could.
“When I didn’t have anything to do, I said I’m going to go practice my spelling words,” she said.
Blanchfield and Karn went back and forth for seven rounds, successfully spelling words like “genesis,” “referendum,” “amphibian” and “choreographer,” before Blanchfield’s miss on niche. She said she was happy with how she finished, though.
“I just hoped I wouldn’t be the first one out,” she said.
All three will move on to the Capital Region Spelling Bee, which will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Proctors.