Grayslake Speller makes it to the final of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Grayslake speller Sahasrad Sathish was among the 13 finalists who competed in the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

Just minutes into the eighth round, Sahasrad, or “Speller No. 1,” was eliminated after failing to spell “cypsela” correctly. He tied for ninth out of 234 spellers.

Hearing head judge Mary Brooks ring the fateful bell indicating she had made a mistake was a huge disappointment for the avid 13-year-old reader. Brooks acknowledged that it was Sahasrad’s last year of eligibility to compete in the Bee and offered some words of encouragement.

“I have a feeling that you are designed for success everywhere. So go out there and do great things and know how very, very proud we are of you,” he said.

After leaving the stage, Sahasrad spoke with Bee host LeVar Burton about his experience in the competition.

“It’s been really great,” Sahasrad said. “I was introduced to a lot of new spellers and it’s been great socializing with them.”

Sahasrad’s parents were there to comfort him after the shock of loss.

“We expected a lot. He was really upset,” mother Vidhya Ramachandran said on Friday.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Still, it was a remarkable achievement for the eighth-grader from Lake Forest Country Day School, as no other spellers from Illinois made it to the final.

In the previous seven rounds, Sahasrad correctly spelled giallolino, apiculture, paleiform, Robenhausian, and Augean, and gave the correct meanings to the words cleptocrat and plebeian.

Sahasrad tied for 21st in last year’s virtual Bee semi-finals. This year was his first National Bee in person in Washington, DC

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Voting Access

The Illinois State Board of Elections has launched a remote access vote-by-mail system for the June 28 primary election to allow voters who are blind, deafblind and with other disabilities to cast their ballots privately and independently.

Such voters can securely receive and mark their ballots electronically at home instead of having to travel to vote at polling places.

Blind and deafblind voters usually cannot read or mark paper ballots without a sighted person to assist them. The new system will allow those voters to use their own screen-reading technology, which expresses digital content or displays it on a Braille device, to mark their ballots.

This system will also help voters who have manual disabilities that prevent them from marking paper ballots with writing utensils.

The state’s 108 local election authorities must provide voters with disabilities an accessible vote-by-mail option beginning with the general election in November, under new state law.

The application period for voting by mail is now open. Voters who wish to use the new system should contact their county clerk or other election authority.


The Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin is offering special programs and a

The Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin is offering special programs and a “Celebrating Rainbows Art and Photography Exhibit” on the second floor of the main library to “educate, inform and enlighten” patrons about Pride Month.
– Courtesy of the Gail Borden Public Library

Celebrating Pride Month

Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

Nationwide, parades, workshops, celebrations, concerts, and rallies for civil rights and in support of the LGBTQIA community are held to raise awareness throughout the month of June.

The Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin is offering special programs and a “Celebrating Rainbows Art and Photography Exhibit” on the second floor of the main library to “educate, inform and enlighten.”

“(It’s about) education and engagement, but it’s also about celebrating each other,” spokeswoman Denise Raleigh said.

The work of four local artists, three from Elgin and one from South Elgin, are represented in the exhibit. For information, visit gailborden.info/pride.

In previous years, the library has had smaller pride displays, but the idea for this year’s display came from a staff member and every department in the library got involved, Raleigh said.

A green screen area has been set up where people can take their picture with a Gay Pride flag background and the images will be displayed on a monitor. Here are the library’s Pride Month educational programs geared toward adults:

•Rainbow 101: An LGBTQIA+ Intro — Learn about the LGBTQIA+ rainbow of gender expression, sexual orientation, and pride flags at 2 pm June 12. To register, visit gailborden.info/register.

•Pride Movie Matinee — Screening of LGBTQIA+ genre films at 1:30 pm on June 19 followed by discussion. sign in gailborden.info/register.


Indian Trails Public Library Digital and Creation Services Librarian Heidi Estrada, left, has been named a 2022 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.  Estrada and Sophie Kenney, right, are working together to develop the Reaching Across Illinois System (RAILS) BIPOC (Black, Native American, People of Color) library worker group.

Indian Trails Public Library Digital and Creation Services Librarian Heidi Estrada, left, has been named a 2022 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Estrada and Sophie Kenney, right, are working together to develop the Reaching Across Illinois System (RAILS) BIPOC (Black, Native American, People of Color) library worker group.
– Courtesy of the Indian Trails Public Library

Change’s agents

Heidi Estrada, digital services and creation librarian at the Wheeling-based Indian Trails Public Library, has been named a 2022 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

Estrada is working as a co-leader with Sophie Kenney to develop the Reaching Across Illinois System (RAILS) BIPOC (Black, Native American, People of Color) library worker group.

With over 70 members, the group’s goal is to foster connection, share resources and experiences in a safe, welcoming and open space for BIPOC library workers. Kenney founded the group in late 2020.

Together, the duo is working to strengthen the community, support group members, and offer professional development and networking. The group is currently developing a mentoring program and webinar series on employment law/legal/human resources. It was recently presented at the Public Library Association conference.

muslim scholarship

Each year, the Islamic Society of North America awards various need-based scholarships to students for their academic performance, community development work, and other factors.

To be eligible, students must be: US citizens or permanent residents; enrolled in an accredited US college/university; and Muslim students actively participating in the community.

To apply for the academic year beginning this fall, visit isna.awardspring.com.

fighting censorship

The Chicago-based American Library Association and a coalition of more than 25 national groups are coming together to empower communities to fight censorship.

The association launched a United Against the Book Ban Campaign intended to raise awareness of the recent rise in book challenges in public libraries and schools.

Most book bans target titles with racial and LGBTQ themes.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, resulting in more than 1,597 challenges or removals of individual books in 2021. It is the highest number of attempts to ban books since ALA started tracking it 30 years ago.

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