NATIONAL HARBOR, M.D. – At just 11 years old, ILTexas Katy K-8 student Kirsten Santos was one of the youngest contestants to compete at the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals on Thursday, June 2. The competition aired on the ION Network and was hosted by Levar Burton from the famed PBS children’s show, ‘Reading Rainbow.’ 

The sixth grader made it to the top 12 finalists of the Scripps National Spelling Bee out of the initial 234 contestants to vie for the $50,000 cash prize. Four of the finalists were from Texas, including Santos who represented her hometown of Richmond. She was sponsored by the Houston Public Media. 

Santos successfully made it past the first round of the finals after correctly spelling ‘colane,’ the subacid fruit from an Australian tree, but was eliminated in the 2nd round for misspelling ‘bastille,’ a french word meaning ‘prison’ or ‘jail.’ 

Kristen Santos (front row center) among the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee finalists. Courtesy photo.

Santos ultimately tied for 5th-place at the Bee and will be eligible to compete again until her 8th grade year. See her complete spelling summary for the competition here. Santos is no stranger to high-stakes spelling bee competitions. In 2019 she tied for 1st place at the National Spanish Spelling bee when she was just eight years old. 

Founded in 1925, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is administered by the E.W. Scripps Company with a purpose “to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives,” according to their website. Elementary and middle school students from the United States and participating countries are eligible to compete for the ultimate cash prize of $50,000 and the chance to be crowned the Scripps National Spelling Bee winner. 

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