KVUE — C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N. That's what seventh grader Pranathi Jammula was crowned March 25 at the Austin Regional Spelling Bee at ZACH Topfer Theatre. From there, she will represent the city at the 2018 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.
Jammula, of Kealing Middle School, was triumphant after 12 rounds before being declared the winner. She correctly spelled "coriaceous" as her winning word three-and-a-half hours into the competition. She beat out 46 other students to earn the title.
According to Fifteen Media, Jammula has participated in the spelling bee program since the third grade and has advanced to the regional competition for four years. She came in third place in 2017 at the Houston Public Media spelling bee, just missing the national competition. This will be her first chance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Before 2018, local students had to travel to Houston to become eligible for the Scripps bee. But since Austin was one of the largest markets with its own bee, and a market Fifteen Media says it had been hoping to foster, Scripps allowed the West Austin Chamber of Commerce to present the first-ever regional bee here.
Inspiration for the regional bee came to the West Austin Chamber of Commerce via Leander ISD student Nihar Janga, who was crowned co-champion of the Scripps bee in 2016. Last year, he and his father, Narayana, mentioned the opportunity to sponsor the bee locally. Nihar served as a judge in the Austin competition.
"We hope that having the opportunity to advance to the regional bee right here in Austin helps us increase interest and participation in the program here locally in the coming years," said West Austin Chamber of Commerce president Morgan Briscoe. "From elementary school on up, we want to help promote the love of spelling, language, and learning. Pranathi’s story is one of dedication and perseverance and we can’t wait to cheer her on at nationals."
Prasanna Jammula, Pranathi's mother, said their entire family is ready to watch her win it all.
"We are very happy to see Pranathi advancing to the Scripps National Spelling Bee," she said. "For sure, her hard work has paid off. We want her to make Austin proud again on the national stage and know that she will step up the intensity to give her best in D.C."
The Scripps National Spelling Bee’s Bee Week will take place from May 27-June 1 at the Gaylord National Resort. The final will air May 31 on ESPN.
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