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Oxon Hill, Md. – Naysa Modi attended the festive Memorial Day barbecue that kicks off the week for competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but she left on the first bus available to return to the convention center outside Washington where the bee is staged. She blew off that evening’s opening ceremonies, too, feeling like she’d seen it all before.

Naysa, who first competed in the bee as a cherubic 9-year-old, is now a poised and accomplished speller in her fourth appearance, with a businesslike approach to match.

“I know what to expect now. I’m not that overwhelmed,” said Naysa.

The 12-year-old seventh-grader from Frisco, Texas, was one of 16 spellers who advanced to Thursday’s prime-time finals after surviving five rounds that stretched over 4½ hours.

Naysa is one of three spellers who finished in last year’s top 10. The others were 12-year-old Shuthrika Padhy of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and 13-year-old Erin Howard of Huntsville, Alabama.

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