Razeen Basunia will be missing the last week of the school year because he has earned himself an all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. now that he is officially the best speller in the tri-county region.
On March 11 Basunia won Spellbound! a regional spelling bee sponsored by the Post and Courier.
The winner goes on to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland. The national competition will feature young spellers from around the world between May 26 and May 31.
There were 50 finalists representing Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester 2, Dorchester 4 and Colleton County school districts Tuesday night of last week. Basunia is an 11-year-old seventh grader at Rollings Middle School of the Arts.
Basunia's winning word was “polypharmacy.” He said he misspelled one word, “spondean” when he spelled it with an I instead of an E, but managed to stay in the game when the person he was against also misspelled the word.
Basunia placed fourth in Spellbound! last year. In order to qualify Basunia had to beat out the students in his class, followed by the students in his school, district and then become the best speller in the region
“I have never been to nationals before so this going to be absolutely new,” he said.
Basunia said at school his best subject is science, “which is funny, because my last two words were scientific words.”
Basunia said he is nervous about nationals, saying 237 people from around the world will be competing to win.
His parents are excited for him. “To be honest, I think they were as surprised as I was,” he said, adding his mother will be accompanying him at nationals. “She has been the most helpful person with my spelling. I owe almost all of this to her.”
On top of being an accomplished speller, Basunia plays the piano at Rollings, and said he has been playing the instrument since he was 6. When he grows up he wants to be a neuroscientist and hopes to attend one of the nation's top schools – maybe Harvard or Stanford.
He said he has received a lot of support from the faculty and students at Rollings. “It actually hasn't sunk in completely yet,” he said. “I still can't believe it.”
Basunia would like to at least pass the semi-finals during nationals, but said he will not be discouraged if he loses.
“I would be in Washington, D.C. in a pretty good hotel,” he said. “I'd have to be thankful just for that. And I already get at least $100 for even competing.”
Rollings Principal Kathy Sobolewski is excited for the seventh grader. “We are very proud of Razeen,” she said.