Ten-year-old Hamsini Janga shook off an initial bout of nervousness. She stumbled over the word “stalemate” in the practice round Thursday but outlasted her peers to go on to win the annual Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) district-wide spelling bee on Feb. 25.
Janga, a fifth-grade student at Center for Inquiry School 2, correctly spelled “ cantankerous” to win a 3-foot tall trophy. Oliver Martinez-Tome from Harshmann Middle School finished second and in third was Jaxton Barker from Francis W. Parker School 56.
“We’ve been practicing for a while so it was hard but not too hard,” said Janga, who plans on placing the trophy either in her home or in the school classroom. “I had all the words on the spelling bee list seared into my brain.”
Janga’s parents – Fatyemdra and Jyothi – sat a few rows back from the stage in Anderson Auditorium at Arsenal Technical High School and watched proudly as the young student prevailed.
“You can tell (I am happy), but my only worry was if she was going to be tense,” her father said. “And, she was. She missed stalemate in the practice round but I knew when she got into a grove, she would bounce back.
“Our daughter is very studious and reads way above her grade level. I also have to credit her teachers and the library for pushing her.”
Serving the guest pronouncer, Rafael Sanchez, a reporter/anchor for WRTV, helped calmed the nerves of the participants from across the district.
During the hour-long content, Sanchez cooly told the students to “take a breath,” “take your time,” and “relax.”
“We had 12 young people today who did their best,” he said. “They prepared in all sorts of fashions. They were a little nervous in the beginning. We had a winner and she did fantastically. She will represent IPS well in the next round.
“There were some tough words the students had to spell,” he said. “I don’t know if I could have done it as an adult.”
The district’s winners will advance to the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at IUPUI on March 20. Those winners will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June. For more information about the national spelling bee, please visit here.
Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation, IUPUI, Rotary Club of Indianapolis and Merriam Webster sponsored the event.