I'm a little late on the coverage here, but I'd like to extend a hearty congratulations to Kavya Shivashankar, the winner of the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee, and a fellow Kansan and violinist!
In my comments on the 2006 nationals, I noted that foreign language study is an excellent tool for increasing one's understanding of English orthography. According to this article, 117 of the 293 spellers in this year's bee---nearly 40%---speak a language other than English. Even more interesting is that 33 of those---over 10%---do not speak English as a first language. I wonder what the officials at the Storm Lake School District in Iowa would think of that?