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Middleton speller heads to Scripps National Spelling Bee for third time

AIDEN_SCRIPPS BEE
Posted at 2:55 PM, May 24, 2024

Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya is one of two spellers representing Wisconsin in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee. It will be his third and final time at the competition.

AIDEN_SCRIPPS BEE
Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya, 13, is set to compete in his third Scripps National Spelling Bee.

In 2019, Wijeyakulasuriya took 51st place, and last year he tied for 21st. But he says it’s not the idea of winning that keeps bringing him back to the stage.

“The place wasn’t really what I cared about,” he said in an interview. “I think that whole week was one of the best weeks of my life. It really inspired me to keep on spelling to go back just one more time.”

He says his favorite part of the competition is the environment and the friendships built with other competitors.

Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya
Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya, 13, of Middleton. The upcoming Scripps National Spelling Bee will be his third and final as a competitor.

“Most competitive events, you know, normally there’s a lot of focus on just the competition itself. But what I like about the Scripps National Spelling Bee is that I think like two or three days they devote to just spellers having fun and interacting with each other,” he said.

Wijeyakulasuriya said he aims to study for 3-4 hours every day and make up lost time on the weekends. Outside of spelling, he enjoys tennis, playing the oboe and being a boy scout.

Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya
Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya

Although he’ll be too old to compete after this year, he’s passionate about encouraging others to give spelling a shot.

“Anyone can do spelling,” Wijeyakulasuriya said. “It’s not something that you just have to be really good at. If you have a love for the English language and you think that it’s interesting, you should at least try cause I can say for sure that the national spelling bee, even a district or regional spelling bee, is a great experience that you’ll never forget.”

Dinusha Wijeyakulasuriya, Aiden’s mother, said it’s been exciting to see how far he’s taking his interest in spelling and that it’s always helpful to have an expert speller around the house.

“English is not our first language. We came from Sri Lanka, so it was always our second language,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how much he’s learned, and we can always get some tips from him when we are writing something.”

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is set to take place from May 28 through May 30 in National Harbor, Maryland.