By LYNETTE HAALAND,
Four Points News
Steiner Ranch resident Nihar Janga, the 11-year-old fifth grader who attends River Ridge Elementary, became the youngest student to be named co-champion in the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee last week and has been on a media tour ever since.
“He probably did more than a dozen (interviews) with all the major channels. We are learning as we go so can’t say how many more,” said Narayana Janga, dad of the national speller.
“We are super excited, it all feels like a dream still,” he said. “The Scripps coordinators have been escorting and organizing everything for us. We had dinner at Times Square last night, and we are just simply amazed.”
Nihar competed with participants from 1st grade to 8th grade from across the nation.
After the win, huge letters were put on the front lawn of RRE, congratulating Nihar, and spelling out his winning the word “gesellschaft.”
Nihar may miss fifth grade graduation this week as he is still touring the country, fitting in interviews.
“At this point we are holding off on any celebrations, because we’re not sure if Nihar will be back to school before the end of the year. If he is back, we plan on recognizing him during our 5th grade graduation ceremony on Friday,” said Jim Rose, RRE principal. “If he’s not back, we will put together some type of video from his friends and classmates.”
RRE gave Nihar a send off, with students lined up along the hallway and slapping his hands as he ran through.
“I am so happy for Nihar. I know this has been a goal for him for a few years now, and the work and preparation he has put in, paid off,” Rose said. “I think that is the best part of the story that we continue to talk about, here at school, if you keep working toward your goals, you can achieve them.”
The other part that has been so much fun for everyone here, has just been following his journey and having a personal connection, Rose added.
“Nihar is such a fantastic young man. Not just brilliant, but kind, caring and very soft spoken. His friends and peers speak so highly of him, and we all couldn’t be more proud of him,” Rose said.
Nihar got a shout out by Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who Nihar has said is his favorite athlete. “You just made my whole day buddy,” Bryant tweeted at Nihar. “Congrats on winning the #spellingbee champ. Some how some way I have to get you to a game #x.”