For Kayla Arnold, the word was "sanguine."
For Sonam Vashi, it was "cryology."
And for Asad Ladhani, it was the word "poinsettia" that earned him the honor of being Gwinnett County's spelling bee champion.
The past three county winners battled nerves, difficult words and other brainy spellers to take first place. When this year's entrants congregate at Central Gwinnet High School on Saturday, Ladhani, now a sixth-grader at Lanier Middle School, will try to do it again.
About 70 kids will take part in a written test. From that pool, 12 spellers will reach the finals, earning a spot on stage where the pressure, and the difficulty of the words, mounts. In the finals, students spell their words into a microphone for the audience to hear.
It's not for the easily flustered, considering "graupel," "asphyxiate" and "seguidilla" were just some of the words spelled correctly last year.
In this age of video games and spellcheck, the spelling bee is distinctly old school. There are no short cuts, no machines to help. Just lots of studying and hard work and, as the past three champions would attest, an ability to stay calm under pressure.
It's not easy, which is why each of Saturday's participants should be proud. But just one speller can be the best of the best, so as the students prepare to match wits, we offer two words:
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