Patel finishes 2nd in state spelling bee

Published 2:31 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

A local middle school student known for his prowess in spelling, won second place in the Alabama Spelling Bee last week.

The spelling bee is hosted in Alabaster in Westwood Baptist Church.

Taj Patel is a Straughn Middle School student and has been known for his skills in karate, spelling and even math. Patel has participated in the Alabama Spelling Bee before, but this was his first time placing as high as second place.

“The last time I was in this spelling bee I placed 10th place,” he said.

“I’m kinda sad and kinda happy. I’m sad because I had it in my hands and watched it slip away, but I’m happy because this is the best I’ve done.”

Taj Patel, center, finished second place in the state spelling bee. Erin Howard of Madison County, right, won first place and Maddux Patterson of Marshall County, right, won third place.
Courtesy photo

Patel went through five hours and 13 extensive rounds of spelling and vocabulary reciting.

When it was down to Patel and two others, they all misspelled their words.

The next round, only one answered her word correctly.

The word that stumped Patel was “croustade,” which is a French culinary term meaning a curst or pie-crust of any type.

A total of 747 schools participated and 53 of the state’s best spellers were Patel’s opponents at state.

Patel says that he’s already started studying for next year’s events.

“I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the next year,” he said.

“I know I need to study a lot harder.”

Patel still holds the record for being the youngest to ever compete in the Alabama Spelling Bee. He first competed when he was 6.