March 20, 2013

Spelling bee winner from Keller headed to nationals

Keller schools sixth-grader outlasts 24 students to win regional spelling bee at TCU.

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, pronounced es-choo, is a noun that means to shun or avoid.

Sujoe beat 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, scheduled for May 28-30 in the Washington, D.C., area.

He has 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. He said he studies about an hour a day, practicing spelling complex words that his dad finds on the Internet or in a dictionary.

Students from 457 schools in 16 counties participated in the bee program 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 semifinals but was knocked out of the running after misspelling himation, a Greek word used to identify a cloak draped around the body.

On Wednesday, the students did so well in the early rounds that bee officials skipped ahead to give them tougher words, Lacina said. During the break, several parents said they were unfamiliar with many of the vocabulary words and 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 definitions. She nailed capricious, pochismo and nenuphar.

Choi said she was not intimidated 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 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, a word used to describe a state of equilibrium, before Sujoe went on to correctly spell blanquette and eschewal.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326

Twitter: @jessamybrown

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