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W-o-r-k before s-u-c-c-e-s-s
Siblings stun Potter spelling bee crowdBy Bruce Beck
For the last eight rounds of the Potter County Senior Spelling Bee, Anjali Raghuram successfully spelled every word pitched to her by pronouncer Dr. Steve Urban.
And for those eight rounds, her younger brother Akshay Raghuram matched her word for word in the auditorium at Carver Elementary Academy.
She'd spell "parquetry;" he'd counter with "dialectician." She'd spell "penitentiary;" he'd field "epidemiologist."
The Bonham Middle School eighth-grader would handle "isosceles;" her Sleepy Hollow Elementary School fifth-grade sibling would navigate "paraphernalia."
And on and on it went until the 24th round. Anjali spelled "nyctalopia" correctly and watched as Akshay stumbled on "omniphibious."
When Anjali correctly spelled "geodesy" in the 25th round, she became the 2008 Potter County Senior Spelling Bee champion, besting 44 other spellers from Amarillo Independent School District campuses, Highland Park and River Road ISD schools, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Holy Cross Catholic Academy and Trinity Lutheran Christian School.
While Akshay said he was confident of being able to spell most of the words Urban sent his way, Anjali said, "I was a little unsure about 'gratis' (in the 22nd round)."
The sister and brother readied themselves for the spelling bee by studying together, but didn't immerse themselves to the exclusion of anything else, Anjali said.
"We studied whenever we got the chance - after homework was done," she said. "And normally we help each other."
The siblings' father, Dr. Nandu Raghuram, said his children got their spelling ability from his wife Anuradha - "she's a good speller" - and remarked on the differences in how Akshay and Anjali approach the skill.
"Anjali has more of a flair for words," he said. "Akshay has to think things through (by pronouncing the words and breaking them down into syllables)."
Anjali now sets her sights on the March 22 Regional Spelling Bee at West Texas A & M University's Branding Iron Theatre. Her brother said he'd help her prepare for the contest, another step closer to her return to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., where she competed in 2005 as a fifth-grader.
The top five spellers in the Potter County Senior Spelling Bee were:
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