celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Study spells victory at bee

Eighth-grader on way to D.C. for national bee

By Brenda Bernet

A faint smile appeared on Anjali Raghuram's face after she was given "assurgent" (meaning rising) to spell in the regional spelling bee Saturday at West Texas A&M University.

"I knew the last word," she said.

Raghuram will represent the Amarillo area for the second time in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. She competed in the national bee for the first time in 2005.

Saturday's contest went to Round 16.

Only two remained in the competition: Raghuram, an eighth-grader from Bonham Middle School, and Christina Benitscheck, a sixth-grader who attends home school in Clovis, N.M.

At the beginning of the round, Benitscheck missed "stratagem" by one letter, opening up an opportunity for Raghuram, who correctly spelled "epochal." Stratagem means a trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy, and epochal means marking the beginning of a new development or era.

Raghuram had to spell one final word - "assurgent" - to win, and she did.

"I'm really excited and thankful I got this opportunity to participate in the regional spelling bee," Raghuram, 12, said.

Raghuram competed with 26 other spellers who were in the fifth through eighth grades from Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Raghuram said her mom, Anu Raghuram, helped her study.

On Saturday, Anu Raghuram tested her own spelling know-how by writing down every word given to spellers at the contest before they started saying the letters. Anu Raghuram got every one right.

Anu Raghuram is excited her daughter will have another opportunity to compete in the national bee, she said.

For Benitscheck, 12, Saturday's contest was somewhat disappointing.

She participated in another regional bee last year and went to the national bee. She had hoped to return this year.

She was happy about receiving a $2,500 savings bond, though.

"I get money," she said.

Each time Benitscheck stepped up to the microphone, she typically would ask for a definition and take a minute before giving her final answer.

"I step back and mutter it to myself so I don't accidentally mess up," she said.

Rachel Thompson, an eighth-grader at Borger Middle School, studied every night for the spelling bee, starting in November, she said.

Her interest in spelling contests began in third grade.

On Saturday, Thompson, 14, finished in third place and received a $1,000 savings bond.

"I'm happy because it's my last spelling bee," she said.

Top finishers in Saturday's Regional Spelling Bee

1. Anjali Raghuram of Amarillo

Prize: $5,100 in savings bond; all-expense paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., as the area's representative to the Scripps National Spelling Bee; a Webster's Third New International Dictionary; one-year subscription to Britannica Online Student Edition; $20 Amazon.com gift certificate; personal plaque

2. Christina Benitscheck of Clovis, N.M.

Prize: $2,500 savings bond; $20 Amazon.com gift certificate; one-year subscription to Britannica Online Student Edition

3. Rachel Thompson of Borger

Prize: $1,000 savings bond and one-year subscription to Britannica Online Student Edition

4. K'Leigh Duke of Darrouzett

Prize: $500 savings bond

5. Seth Overstreet of Laverne, Okla.

Prize: $500 savings bond

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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