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Local student places 8th at Bee

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Suwanee Elementary School fourth-grader Shruthi Santhanam sits next to otherstate spelling bee finalists at Georgia State University on Friday. Santhanam lasted 15 rounds of the bee, one of the longest in years, before being ousted by the word "latency." Santhanam placed eighth.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips Suwanee Elementary School fourth-grader Shruthi Santhanam sits next to otherstate spelling bee finalists at Georgia State University on Friday. Santhanam lasted 15 rounds of the bee, one of the longest in years, before being ousted by the word "latency." Santhanam placed eighth.

ATLANTA -- Shruthi Santhanam's goal was to make it through the first round of the Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee.

The Suwanee Elementary School fourth-grader far exceeded her goal, correctly spelling 14 words before becoming the 13th contestant eliminated from the bee. In all, 20 elementary and middle school students from throughout the state competed in the bee.

After the first round, Shruthi said she was more optimistic about her chances, as she felt the initial words were easy. But two hours into the bee, she said she started feeling tired and hungry.

"I was sort of relieved," she said of being eliminated.

Her father, Arun Santhanam, said he thought Shruthi's performance was fantastic.

During the bee, she correctly spelled "flotilla," "antibiotic," "mantilla," "seltzer," "vulcanize," "capitulation," "magnanimous," "arachnid," "blitzkrieg," "ersatz," "apartheid," "ingenue," "schottische" and "ergonomist." She was eliminated on "latency."

Before competing in the state bee, Shruthi won the Gwinnett County Spelling Bee and the GAE District 3 Spelling Bee.

"We never thought she would come this far," her father said. "We're very happy."

Julia Denniss, 13, from Marist School in Fulton County won the state bee. Late in the 12th round, the bee was narrowed to Julia and 13-year-old Noah Weinrich from Learning Grove Home School in Oconee County. Noah went first and was given the word "pansit," but he spelled it incorrectly. The word was then given to Julia, who spelled it correctly, along with "conjunctivitis" to win the bee.

Julia will represent Georgia on June 2 to 4 in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championships in Washington, D.C.