We’ve always been impressed by good spellers — and we’re not talking about those who are adept at using the handy little computer feature that’s designed to catch and correct misspelled words.
No, we’re talking about the real deal — those who can stand up and slug it out with others head-to-head to see who really knows when to put “I before E” and vice versa.
Anyone who has ever taken part in a classroom event once known as a “spell-down” understands the stress that can mount as the competition progresses.
Even the most accomplished spellers can fall victim to the intensity — as more students stumble and fall out of the competition, the strain increases for those who are left, until the simplest words can seem impossible to remember.
Now, imagine competing in such an event on a larger stage, against the best spellers from a wide area. Now, you’re really talking pressure.
That’s why we are so impressed by a young man named Lokesh Nagineni. This Flower Mound middle school student has represented Denton County as the spelling bee champion for the past three years, and on Thursday, he clinched a fourth straight win to advance to The Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee on March 22.
He told us he thought the words in the Denton County Spelling Bee were pretty easy this year — he spelled “permeability” in the 21st round to edge past Briarhill Middle School sixth-grader Ananya Kodali, and made it official in the 22nd round with “representative.”
“You never know what words you’ll get,” he told us Friday. “That’s the beauty of the Bee.”
Well, if we remember those long-ago spell-downs correctly, we’d say there’s a lot more to it than that.
The 13-year-old is not shy about competition — he takes part in the University Interscholastic League science, math, spelling and dictionary skills events. The eighth-grader is also taking 11th grade pre-Advanced Placement math.
In his free time, he likes to read and play sports, including swimming, racquetball, badminton, football, basketball and soccer.
In the past three regional spelling bee competitions, Lokesh has been runner-up. This is his last year to compete — competitors top out in eighth grade — and a win would advance him to the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held May 25-31 in Washington, D.C.
He told us he will be studying the words from the list handed out to competitors to get ready for the regional competition, but, at the urging of his parents, he’s not feeling much stress about it.
Congratulations on taking the county crown for the fourth straight year, Lokesh. That’s an impressive achievement. We’ll be rooting for you in the regional event and hope you make it all way to the nation’s capital in May.
Thanks for setting such a great example — we hope your success will encourage many other young people to sharpen their spelling skills.