1st grader makes spelling bee history

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Covington County’s spelling wonder Taj Patel came in 29th at the state spelling bee.

There were 59 contestants attending the bee, which was held Saturday in Birmingham.

At 6, the Straughn Elementary School first grader is the youngest student ever to compete in Alabama’s statewide Spelling Bee. He earned his spot in the competition by winning the county spelling bee last month.

Dad Neil Patel said the crowd was on his son’s side the whole time and after he missed his word “facetious,” everyone let out an “aawwwwhhh” in disappointment.

“It was an amazing experience for Taj,” Patel said. “Everybody wanted to meet the only 6-year-old to compete in the Alabama State Spelling Bee. Taj also met Kevin Lazenby who won the Alabama Bee this year and also last year.

“Taj got a lot of pointers and help to study for the next year’s bee and years to come from most of the people he met,” he said.