Sathvika, a fifth-grade student at Little River Elementary School, won by correctly spelling “Sputnik,” which was the first artificial Earth satellite launched into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1957.
“I knew what it was,” Sathvika said of the beach ball-sized device that triggered the American Sputnik crisis, the space age and the U.S./U.S.S.R. space race.
She added she thought “Sputnik” was her most difficult word throughout the bee, although “aria” came in a close second.
“I practiced so I wasn’t scared,” she said.
The district bee was at Cherokee High School and judged by Cherokee Board of Education Chairwoman Janet Read, retired Assistant Superintendent Carla Cohen and Peta Murray, a social studies teacher at Etowah High School.
One student from each of the district’s 32 elementary, intermediate and middle schools competed to earn the top title after winning the school-level bee at their respective schools.
Runner-up Ceci Webb, a Dean Rusk Middle School eighth-grader, incorrectly spelled “aria,” defined as an accompanied elaborate melody sung (as in an opera) by a single voice. Sathvika correctly spelled “aria” before spelling her winning word.
Sathvika’s parents, Gopal and Nagalakshmi Narasimhan, cheered her on from the crowd alongside her 5-year-old brother Surya, who also attends Little River.
“It was totally unexpected,” Nagalakshmi Narasimhan said. “I just never expected it.”
“But we wanted it!” Gopal Narasimhan chimed in.
Sathvika’s mother said she was more nervous than her daughter before the bee began.
“She told me to calm down,” Nagalakshmi Narasimhan said. “It should have been the other way around.”
Sathvika, Ceci and second-runner up Callie Goins, a fifth-grader at Arnold Mill Elementary School, will attend the Georgia Association of Educators District 2 Spelling Bee at 10 a.m. Feb. 23 at Mabry Middle School in Cobb County.