Highland Park Elementary celebrated the spelling accomplishments of student Sophia Hoffman April 9 with a special school lunch. The Highland Park Elementary cafeteria created the menu in honor of Sophia, a fifth-grader who recently gained international attention following an extraordinary Jackson County Spelling Bee competition.
Through the Lee’s Summit R-7 Nutrition Services Department, the school cafeteria offered “Sophia’s Lunch” April 9. The special menu featured a variety of Sophia’s favorite foods, including cheese jammers, pepperoni wedge pizza, orange smiles, grapes, roasted asparagus and steamed carrots.
During the annual Jackson County Spelling Bee, the Highland Park student and Kush Sharma of Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City survived 66 championship rounds with the two finalists going head to head for 47 rounds on Feb. 22. Sophia and Kush competed in a rematch on March 8 with Kush winning first place and advancing to the Scripps National Spelling Bee after a total of 97 rounds. Sophia is runner-up for the county bee.
The drawn-out Jackson County finish received international attention, with coverage by media outlets such as National Public Radio, “Inside Edition,” Time magazine, The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and the New York Daily News. Sophia appeared on the CNN national morning news show and ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Feb. 25, traveling to New York City to be a guest on each show. In addition, she made a trip to California during spring break to appear on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Sophia and Kush dropped the puck together at a recent Mavericks game. On April 7, Sophia and Kush were recognized by the Jackson County Legislature. Sophia gave Kush a handmade card wishing him good luck at nationals.
Sophia qualified for the Jackson County Spelling Bee by winning her school competition.