Staff Photo: Heather Darenberg
Fifth-graders Shruthi Santhanam, left, and Sumedh Garimella are advancing to the state spelling bee. Shruthi correctly spelled "ballyhooed" and "vacuole" to win the District 3 Spelling Bee. Sumedh was the runner-up.
SUWANEE — Shruthi Santhanam didn’t think she’d advance to the state spelling bee again this year.
“The first week (after the Gwinnett County Spelling Bee), I didn’t study. I had more fun playing with friends,” said Shruthi, a fifth-grader at Suwanee Elementary. “I was scared because I hadn’t prepared.”
Prepared or not, Shruthi spelled her way to victory Saturday for the second year in a row at the Georgia Association of Educators’ District 3 Spelling Bee. The bee included 28 spellers from 13 public school systems, one private school and two home school associations.
• Alyssa Bailey, Haymon-Morris Middle, Barrow County
• Gustavo Ramirez, Buford Middle, Buford City
• Jordan Tomblin, Commerce Middle, Commerce City
• C’Lee Long, Franklin County Middle, Franklin County
• Daniel Co, Gainesville Middle, Gainesville City
• Ansel Ahabue, Arcado Elementary, Gwinnett County
• Ryan Chen, Crews Middle, Gwinnett County
• Matias Herbener, Duluth Middle, Gwinnett County
• Sabarish Sainathan, Five Forks Middle, Gwinnett County
• Keshav Kalathoor, Hull Middle, Gwinnett County
• Asad Ladhani, North Gwinnett Middle, Gwinnett County
• Sumedh Garimella, Parsons Elementary, Gwinnett County
• Matthew Chen, Pinckneyville Middle, Gwinnett County
• Christy Daniel, Roberts Elementary, Gwinnett County
• Shruthi Santhanam, Suwanee Elementary, Gwinnett County
• Byron Moon Jr., Sweetwater Middle, Gwinnett County
• Alex Norton, Trickum Middle, Gwinnett County
• Brooke Benfield, North Habersham 6th Grade Academy, Habersham County
• Andrew Hathcock, South Hall Middle, Hall County
• Parker Ramey, South Hall Middle, Hall County
• Madison Hill, West Jackson Middle, Jackson County
• Sophia Brown, Jefferson Academy, Jefferson City
• Alexis Gantt, Comer Elementary, Madison County
• Makenzie Ramey, Rabun County Elementary, Rabun County
• Casey Ramsey, Stephens County Middle, Stephens County
• Varsha Bharadwaj, Duluth Montessori School
• Rosa Miller, Christian Home Educators Encouragement and Resources
• Caleb Brandt, Fellowship of Christian Family Educators
Shruthi’s next stop is the state spelling bee on March 18 at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Although she plans to resume her normal schedule of studying six hours a day, Shruthi said competing at the state level will be a nerve-wracking experience.
“I’m very nervous, even if I’ve been there before,” she said.
Also advancing to state is the district runner-up, Sumedh Garimella, a fifth-grader at Parsons Elementary.
“I’m feeling a little bit like elated and a teeny tiny bit bittersweet,” Sumedh said.
Sumedh was visibly disappointed when he misspelled “ballyhooed,” which Shruthi spelled correctly, along with “vacuole,” to win the bee. Although he wanted to come in first, Sumedh is also proud of his accomplishments.
“This was my first time winning the school bee, and now I’m going to state,” he said.
When asked how he was planning to celebrate his advancement to state, Sumedh said he wasn’t sure.
“I’m going to relax today,” he said. “I have to, because I’m fatigued, just like my Round 2 word.”
To prepare for the next level, Sumedh said he’ll continue his normal studying habits, which include reading the frequent words list and playing a spelling video game on his Nintendo DS. Before the district bee, Sumedh said he also gave up his recess to go to the school library and read the dictionary.
“I have a dream, and it’s going to nationals,” he said.