Rushton fifth-grader Om Pande headed to Sunflower Spelling Bee and a chance at national finals

A Rushton fifth-grader is among the finalists from the Johnson County Spelling Bee who will be making the trip to Hays to compete in the state’s Sunflower Spelling Bee. The

Om Pande is headed to the Sunflower Spelling Bee representing Johnson County and Rushton Elementary.
Om Pande is headed to the Sunflower Spelling Bee representing Johnson County and Rushton Elementary.

A Rushton fifth-grader is among the finalists from the Johnson County Spelling Bee who will be making the trip to Hays to compete in the state’s Sunflower Spelling Bee. The winner of the regional competition moves on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Om Pande also represented Rushton Elementary in the county Bee last year as a fourth-grader and just missed the finals. Students can compete through the eighth grade, so he has years ahead of him.

Getting out of the Rushton Spelling Bee may have been one of his greatest challenges. The Bee went 29 rounds with only Om and fellow fifth-grader Aditya Kulkarni standing after the 11th round.

“I feel like if you just focus, it’s not that hard,” Pande said. “My dad says if you do a lot of hard work, it’s going to pay off.”

“We are really proud of Om and excited for him,” said Rushton Principal Amy Simeonov. “They are a great family and Om is such a great representative of Rushton Elementary and the Shawnee Mission School District.” In fact, he is the only representative of the Shawnee Mission School District going to the state competition. The other seven finalists are all from Blue Valley schools.

Om’s older sister also has made it into the Johnson County Bee before. She and Om’s mother quiz him to help him prepare for the regional competition on March 5. It will include finalists from 79 counties.

“I don’t over-think it,” Om said of his approach to spelling. “He has a lot of confidence,” said Simonov.

As good as he is at spelling, Om said math is his favorite subject.