Keller sixth-grader is regional Spelling Bee champ

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH — A Keller school district sixth-grader battled through 26 rounds at the annual regional spelling bee at Texas Christian University on Wednesday before claiming the championship.

Ansun Sujoe, 12, rattled off vowels and consonants to correctly spell eschewal.

The word, a noun, means shunning or avoidance.

Sujoe bested 24 other students to win the TCU College of Education Spelling Bee, sponsored by the College of Education’s Center for Urban Education and the Star-Telegram.

Sujoe won a trophy, which he plans to display in the living room, a dictionary and the chance to audit a TCU course. He also gets an expenses-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 28-30 near Washington, D.C. That gives him 69 days to prepare to take on students from around the country.

“I was confident in the first rounds and nervous in the last part,” said Sujoe, who attends Parkwood Hill Intermediate School. “I would just think about being at home so it would be more comfortable.”

He said he plans to step up his studying with his father, Sujoe Bose. Right now, he studies about an hour a day, practicing spelling complex words his dad finds on the Internet or in a dictionary.

Students from 457 schools from 16 counties participated in the bee this year. The 25 students who competed Wednesday qualified for the regional bee by winning their campus bee and then a district or area bee, said Jan Lacina, associate dean at the TCU college of education.

Last year’s regional winner, Mark De Los Santos, advanced to the sixth round of the national spelling bee semi-finals but was knocked out of the running after misspelling himation.

On Wednesday, the students did so well in the early rounds that spelling bee officials skipped ahead to give them tougher words, Lacina said. Several parents remarked during a break that they were unfamiliar with many of the vocabulary words, didn’t know how to spell them or what they meant.

Kailey Choi, the youngest speller in the contest at age 8, was eliminated in round 14, after misspelling disparity. She powered through her words, largely without asking for additional information, such as the word’s definition. She nailed capricious, pochismo and nenuphar.

Choi said she was not intimidated by competing against older students. She studies after school every day with her mother.

“After I practice, we do a practice spelling bee,” said Choi, a third-grader at Charlotte Anderson Elementary school in the Mansfield school district.

After Fort Worth home-schooled student Peter Kotara was eliminated in the 19th round, giving him a third-place finish, Sujoe went head-to-head for six rounds with Ben Benjadol, 11, last year’s runner-up. (He first competed at age 7 in 2009).

Benjadol, of Wilshire Elementary School in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district, missed on equipoise before Sujoe went on to correctly spell blanquette and eschewal.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326; Twitter: @jessamybrown

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