Kavya Shivashankar Spelling Bee 2009 Winner (Pictures & Video)

Kavya Shivashankar, a 13-year-old 8th grader from Olathe, Kansas, is the Spelling Bee 2009 Winner. Kavya Shivashankar who studies at Olathe's California Trail Junior High School won the contest on May 28 after correctly spelling Laodicean, a word means "lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics." Watch Kavya Shivashankar pictures and video of her spelling Laodicean below.

Picture of Kavya Shivashankar 2009 National Spelling Bee WinnerSpelling Bee 2009 Winner Kavya Shivashankar Photo

Kavya Shivashankar, a 13-year-old word wizard from Olathe, finally captured the Scripps National Spelling Bee championship Thursday.

After six years of inhaling dictionaries word by word, memorizing their meanings, studying their roots and perfecting their pronunciations, she bested 292 competitors and aced 40 words to capture a prize that has eluded her in three previous final appearances.

“It’s been my dream for so long, I just can’t believe it’s actually happened,” Kavya said afterward.

Kavya Shivashankar, who dreams to be a neurosurgeon when she grows up,  received a huge Scripps National Spelling Bee Trophy bestowed by President and CEO of the E.W. Scripps Company Rich Boehne.  Her prizes included $30,000 in cash, a $5,000 scholarship, a $2,500 savings bond and an Encyclopaedia Britannica reference collection.  Congrats:


About Laodicean: definition from yourdictionary.com:



  1. of Laodicea
  2. indifferent or lukewarm in religion: an allusion to the early Christians of Laodicea (city in Phrygia): Rev. 3:14-16
  3. indifferent or lukewarm about any subject


  1. a person born or living in Laodicea
  2. one who is indifferent or lukewarm, esp. in religion

A few more details about Laodicean from Nowpublic

...Laodicean, … has two distinct meanings: of or relating to Laodecia, or indifferent in matters of religion. Laodicean is also the title of a 1881 a novel by Thomas Hardy [the book is now in public domain on Google Book Search, you can read here].

The religious meaning of the word Laodicean is a historical reference to an early Christian Church in ancient Rome whose members were tolerant of pagan faiths. The Laodecian Church is one of the famous "seven churches" mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Revelations.

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