It's summer and Must-See-TV isn't a thing anymore, so of course what you're doing tonight is staying in and watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals. But who are these young minds shaping tomorrow's future?
The semi-finals ended with 18 spellers on stage, but several were cut after written tests from last night were reviewed. These 11 move on to the finals.
Vanya Shivashankar from Olathe, Kansas. Age 11, 6th grade.
"Sometimes a spelling bee is like preparing for a rollercoaster," says Vanya during a pre-packaged segment where she literally rides a rollercoaster to complete this analogy. Her sister is a spelling bee champion. "She's my role model and she inspires everything I do."
Amber Born from Lynn, Massachusetts. Age 14, 8th grade.
Amber wants to be a comedian, and she's certainly impressed the crowd with her energy and focus when she's on stage. She's basically treated the Bee like she's doing stand-up, walking out for one round with a "She seemed nice" in reference to the video that had just played hyping her talents.
Arvind Mahankali from New York, New York. Age 13, 8th grade.
Arvind has been deemed "tough to beat" – he placed third the past two years running. To get this far he actually had to compete against his younger brother, which probably looked like a cute-off.
Grace Remmer from Jacksonville, Florida. Age 14, 8th grade.
She's been in the semi-finals three times, but this is Grace's first time in the finals. Considering how many times she's done this, Grace was a quiet presence during the semi-finals, successfully winning with "teneramente."
Vismaya Kharkar from Salt Lake City, Utah. Age 14, 8th grade.
Vismaya is totally flashy and knows that she's got it going on, probably because she's an old pro at this; this is her third Bee. Also she likes singing — she exudes confidence.
Christal Schermeister from Miami, Florida. Age 13, 8th grade.
The best thing about Christal are the looks she gives to the camera. Seriously, Tyra Banks could take some lessons from her on how to smize properly.
Nikitha Chandran from St. Petersburg, Florida. Age 13, 8th grade.
Nikitha loves The Hunger Games and Taylor Swift. Natch.
Pranav Sivakumar from Grayslake, Illinois. Age 13, 8th grade.
Pranav has been around for three years and he seems super over the competition, if over it means he could totally win this thing by being so cool and nonchalant!
Chetan Reddy from Dallas, Texas. Age 13, 8th grade.
Chetan is really into cricket, which apparently you can play in Dallas, Texas. He's never made it this far before but has been to Scripp's four times.
Syamantak Payra from Houston, Texas. Age 12, 7th grade.
Dude just snuck in there! He was super quiet during the semis. All I've got about him is that he's really good at a lot of things.
Sriram Hathwar from Corning, New York. Age 13, 7th grade.
I mostly like Sriram's hair. It's so jaunty. This photo is from two years ago and it's a great representation of a look he's still rocking.
A huge shout-out to all the kids who didn't make it to the finals but still provided many laughs, including Isabel Cholbi who uttered "We meet again" as she walked up to the mic, Jonathan Caldwell, who, when he'd run out of clarifying questions said, "What else can I ask?" and Eva Kitlen, who was so nervous during her elimination round that you could hear her heavily breathing into the microphone, prompting her to say, "Can I maybe have another word?"
Oh and Caleb, sweet Caleb, who blurted out, "Oh you've got to be kidding me" when he heard how "cyanope" was spelled (he had tried "psianope") and saluted the audience on his way off stage. The clip at top is Lucas Urbanski, who did not make it past the semi-finals ("circensian") but who got a clarifying sentence for one of his words that included bronies. I'd say take your comments on whose a favorite to win to the comments, but don't do that, they're kids.
Images via AP/video screenshots