SUWANEE -- Shruthi Santhanam says she has a weakness in spelling French words, but her knowledge of some French spelling rules helped her win the Georgia Association of Educator's District 3 Spelling Bee on Saturday.
After runner-up Parker Ramey, of South Hall Middle School, misspelled "pasqueflower," 9-year-old Shruthi correctly spelled that and "churro" to win the spelling bee.
Of her final word, the Suwanee Elementary School fourth-grader said, "We used to go to Costco and get churros to eat. I was like so happy. I was like, 'Yay!'"
Last month, Shruthi also won the Gwinnett County Spelling Bee. She will advance to the GAE State Spelling Bee on March 19 at Georgia State University.
"I feel a little nervous. I don't think I'm going to win," Shruthi said of the upcoming state bee. "Obviously, I'm going to study a lot."
The morning of the district bee, Shruthi didn't do anything special, said her mother, Nikila Prabhakaran.
"(We did) some breathing exercises, just to calm her down," she said.
Shruthi was one of 28 contestants in the district bee. The spellers came from school systems in 11 counties -- Gwinnett, Barrow, Hall, Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Rabun, Jackson, Stephens, Walton and Madison. Nineteen of the competitors attend middle school.
Nearly half of the spellers were knocked out in the first three rounds of the bee. By the seventh round, seven spellers remained on the stage, and it took 11 more rounds to narrow the field to the two final competitors.
Some of the words from the later rounds included "kuruma," "azimuth," "maelstrom," "gauche," "bromeliad," "pizzicato," "hartebeest," "barukhzy" and "keeshond" -- all of which were spelled correctly.