Education Matters: Spelling Bee Preview

FRESNO, California - The annual Fresno County spelling bee is this Wednesday and that's when we'll learn which students will represent the county at the National Scripps Spelling Bee competition.

Ananya Vinay's win last year inspired many students participating in the spelling bee to aim high. Many have been studying for the competition since December and any one of them could take home the prize.

It has been almost a year since Ananya captured the hearts of the valley and country when she won the national spelling bee competition. Now at 13 years she is still competing.

"I've been competing in math and science competitions like I'm going to the National Science Bowl in April" stated Ananya. 

She is also keeping the promise she made last year to coach this year's spelling bee finalist.

"I really enjoy coaching because it's completely different side to spelling instead of competing you're spreading your knowledge and it's a different aspect that I really find enjoyable," she said.

These 12 students make up the spelling bee team at Ananya's old school, Fugmen Elementary; she has helped coach and prepared them to take this test. 

"I thought it was really nice and she was just doing it out of the good of her heart," said Fugman Elementary student Amulya Nagappala.

It was a written test, 30 words they had to get right if the wanted to move on to the next step. Written test were given to students in schools throughout Fresno county, including this group from Clovis unified…the goal find the top spellers at each school district

The top two finalist would go on to compete in the Fresno County Spelling Bee. The top two spellers for Clovis Unified came from Fugman Elementary

Amulya Nagappala and Shiv Mehrotra-Varma are both fifth graders and  will represent Clovis in the county spelling bee. This is Amulya's first time participating, Shiv's second and he's got his eye on the prize.

"I was excited because I wanted to try again and I've been waiting like for a year," said Shiv. 

These two students are lucky the national champion hails from their school, Ananya is now working with them. The three often Skype and Ananya takes them through the paces. Amulya and Shiv, both say they have been inspired by Ananya, seeing her win made them believe they could too.

You could call it the Ananya effect, the Fresno Unified School District had a record number of students participating in the district's spell-off.

The words would get a lot harder as 82 students tried to spell their way to the county competition. When they got down to the final two…it was the word 'massacre' that put Jaimie Jaurique over the top.

"I'm surprised I actually one, going in I didn't think I would make it this far, I didn't even think I'd get top 10," stated Manchester Gate School student Jaime Jaurique.

This was Jamie's first competition, and it will be the Manchester Gate 5th grader's first trip to the county spell-off…not bad for a kid who said he didn't study.

For some students spelling is like their sport…Mary Clare Nadores, a 6th grader at Lady of Perpetual Help a catholic school in Clovis, has been participating in spelling contest since the second grade

Mary Clare will tell you she's been studying real hard for the county spelling bee…last year she came very close to winning…she went toe to toe with Ananya. 

"After she won the National and I was like ok, I competed with the National Champion and I'm like that's just great," Nadores exclaimed. 

Mary Clare says her goal is to make it as far as her abilities will take her and that includes a trip to the national's.  There will be a lot of other kids on the stage with the same dream. Ananya's advice, pay attention to the word, the language rules, but in the end luck could be the deciding factor.

"Luck plays a huge part in the spelling bee because you don't know what word you will get.  You just have to know how to deal with the word you get."

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