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Sruthi Garimella, a fourth grader in Jonathan Neal’s class at Barranca Mesa Elementary School, competed in her class’ spelling bee Monday and successfully qualified for the school spelling bee despite being in Paris, France.
She was able to compete in this intercontinental spelling bee through the magic of Internet video conference. Along with Garimella, Eli Iramk-Bent, Isaac Ronning, and Kaylee Rogers also placed in the top four slots of Neal’s fourth grade class, qualifying all of them to compete in the school spelling bee.
Garimella is missing class for a week and a half to accompany her parents at a professional conference in Paris. However, the timing was inopportune, given that she would be out of the country for her class’ spelling bee.
“The educational value of a trip to Paris as a fourth grader is off the charts,” Neal said. “But it was a disappointment to her and me that she was going to miss out on our spelling bee. I thought out of the box, and this was the solution I came up with.”
Garimella’s parents connected with Neal’s iPad at 8:25 a.m. Los Alamos time (4:25 p.m. Paris time) on Monday, through Apple’s FaceTime videoconferencing software.
Garimella’s face was then projected from Neal’s iPad onto the class’ smart board, allowing her to appear alongside her classmates, who stood in a line on either side of the smart board as long as they remained in the competition.
A classmate held Neal’s iPad throughout the competition and pointed it at each student who was spelling, so that Garimella could watch each of her classmates compete.
When it was Garimella’s turn, Neal spoke directly into the iPad to give her each word. The iPad was plugged into speakers, so that Garimella’s classmates could hear her spell.
In the end, Garimella placed in the top four, qualifying her to place in the school’s spelling bee.