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Girl of letters: Valley Crossing fifth-grader headed to regional spelling bee

Anjali Nambudiri, a 5th grader at Valley Crossing Elementary School, qualified for the Regional Spelling Bee, which is scheduled for March 22 at St. Catherine University. The winner of that competition will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)


It takes hard work, focus and smarts to win a spelling bee. Not to mention poise and nerve.

Anjali Nambudiri appears to have what it takes. The fifth-grader at Valley Crossing Elementary School is heading to the regionals after winning the spelling bee at her school. In order to qualify for regionals, she also had to pass an online spelling and vocabulary test.

Namburdiri, 10, will take the stage with other students March 22 at St. Catherine University. If she wins, she will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Maintaining grace under pressure is crucial when you're the center of attention in a packed room and trying to spell words like allogamy, schloss or paradigm. Nambudiri is no stranger to the pressure.

"Usually I feel real nervous so I try to think if I've heard the word before and if I haven't I'm probably panicking," she said. "I just try to sound it out."

Determining each word's language of origin is key, she said, since each language has its own spelling rules. To prepare for the regionals, she's studying a list of 1100 words, which are grouped into different linguistic or cultural categories.

"Words from the New World, those are usually spelled the same as they sound," she said.

Nambudiri became spellbound last year when she won third place in her classroom spelling bee. She's happy to be the best speller in her school but knows the Regional Spelling Bee is going to put her up against some tough competitors.

She said it helps to have her parents in the audience.

"When you learn how to spell a word at a spelling bee you never forget it because you're under so much pressure," she said.

The Regional Spelling Bee is sponsored by the Metropolitan Educational Cooperative Service Unit.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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