Koinonia, noun — an intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.
Throughout this week, students from across the country have attempted to spell this and other words at the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. Among the more than 500 competitors for this year’s contest is a Piner Middle School student, who competed for the top title for the second year in a row.
Shomoy Kamal, who was speller number 543, said he got the chance to return to the national contest following wins at local contests in Sherman earlier this year. Ultimately, Shomoy came just short and was not chosen as one of the finalists for the contest.
“It really does take a lot of hard work to get to the nationals,” Shomoy said Wednesday, describing his practice for the national competition.
Shomoy has won the Grayson County spelling bee the last three years.
“We are extremely proud of Shomoy’s recent accomplishment of competing in the National Scripps Spelling Bee and representing Sherman ISD and Piner Middle School on the national level,” Sherman Director of Communications Kimberly Simpson said. “During the spring semester, we were able to witness his preparation and hard work pay off when he became the Piner Middle School Spelling Bee Champion and advanced to the Grayson County Spelling Bee competition.”
Shomoy got his start in spelling bee competitions when he was in fifth grade as a way to expand his interests and try new things, he said.
“I just wanted a new experience, so I decided to keep learning words and going forward,” he said.
For the national contest, Shomoy said he had to take a written test in the preliminaries that included not only the proper spelling of the word but also definitions. During this stage last year, Kamal was one point short of being able to advance to the finals, he said.
For Wednesday’s stage of the competition, Shomoy was asked to spell the word “biopic,” which describes a biographical movie. In the second round, Shomoy successfully spelled “vacillate,” which means to waver in mind, will or feeling.
“It is really just a lot of weight to put on just one word,” he said.
Shomoy said each of the students were given a list of 600 words to study for the competition. As English often uses words from other languages, Kamal said it was important to be able to understand the rules for words in other languages to help in determining the correct spelling.
Shomoy said there are scholarship possibilities that could come from the winning or doing well in the contest, but he said he was most proud to be able to represent his home.
“They haven’t had a lot of recognition for spelling bees recently, so I hope to represent the district well,” he said.
Even though he didn’t win the top prize, Syed Kamal said he was still proud of his son for making it to the national contest.
“The championship is a faraway dream, but we are proud either way,” he said.
Michael Hutchins in a reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.