Spelling Bee Finalist Gets Special Congrats From His School In Friendswood

Last week about 300 students from across the country competed in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Two students from the Greater Houston area reached the semifinals. One of them Syamantak Payra finished 7th overall. This week his school in Friendswood gave him a special shout out.

Yellow paper bumble bees are posted on the brick hallways at Westbrook Middle School. The decoration is tribute to the school’s champion speller, Syamantak Payra.

The whole school gave him a special cheer at the end of the year talent show.

(Cheering)

Syamantak watched from the auditorium stage. He grinned widely and clutched a book full of notes from his classmates. He had to spell a lot of words to reach the finals in the National Spelling Bee.

His favorite word in the competition?

“Probably Ouagadougou. It’s the capital of Burkina Faso. And it’s O-U-A-G .. Oh no, Yeah, O-U-A-G-A-D-O-U-G-O-U. Wait did I say that right?”

Yes that’s right.

“It’s kind of like a weird word. It doesn’t conform to many rules. And it’s the capital, so it’s pretty important, too.”

Besides a talent for spelling, he’s shown a generous spirit.

He donated $1,000 dollars to his school last year after he won a different spelling bee, as his principal Lori Broughton says.

“I could not believe it. Especially when I’m thinking, you know, this is a 12 year old and already has that understanding of the importance of giving and how that this campus and this school means that much to him.”

Next year he’ll be in eighth grade and plans to compete again.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...