Area champion’s formula spells success

02/10/2014 5:00 PM

02/10/2014 5:00 PM

From “bric-a-brac” to “zinnia,” 53 campus spelling champions from Keller and Northwest schools competed in the Area 13 Spelling Bee Feb. 5 at Timber Creek High School.

Avi Khurana, a sixth-grader from Parkwood Hill Intermediate, won the bee by correctly spelling “blase” and “zinnia.”

Some of the spellers had set routines, from always asking for definitions to closing their eyes or tracing letters on their arms. Others dove right in to the spelling, like runner-up Nabeeha Hassan, a sixth-grader from Timberview Middle School.

Area champion Avi had a system. Each round, he politely asked pronouncer Dan Manning, retired Aledo superintendent and a former Keller administrator, for the language of origin, a repetition of the word, the definition and a sentence using the word. He then would trace out the letters on his forearm, sometimes looking down to trace the letters again as he spelled.

“I had a plan to ask for pretty much everything,” Avi said. “I knew most of the words right away, but there were a few that I couldn’t tell what they were until I asked for the definition.”

Avi competed in the area bee two years ago and was eager to go to the area round again. Last year’s area champion, Ansun Sujoe, also a sixth-grader from Parkwood Hill, won the Fort Worth regional bee and advanced to the national bee in Washington, D.C.

Avi said, “I studied every day. I studied a lot.”

Avi’s mother, Neelam Kharbanda, said his grandparents helped him by giving him words. When Avi competed in the area round two years ago, he missed a word because the pronouncer said it differently than his mother pronounced it, she said. This time when he studied, he made sure he knew the dictionary pronunciation.

Kharabanda said her son worked very hard to prepare for the bee. “It’s really his motivation and his desire that got him here,” she said.

Avi said he would study a lot of words, both on and off the list, for the regional round, the Texas Christian University College of Education Regional Spelling Bee set for March 19 at the TCU Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom.

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