Brothers take 1st, 2nd places in spelling bee

Published 2:13 am Saturday, February 9, 2019

Two brothers battled it out for the first prize at the Covington County Spelling Bee last week.

Eighth grader Taj Patel won first place, and his little brother, third grader Dhilan Patel, won second place.

Taj made the news in 2018 for placing second at the Alabama State Spelling Bee and competing in the Scripts National Spelling Bee. He has won his school spelling bee eight years in a row.

Dhilan has won the Straughn Elementary School Spelling Bee two years in a row.

Taj said that winning this year’s county spelling bee is one of his biggest accomplishments yet.

“Spelling bees have really become a big part of my life,” Taj said. “Last year I went to D.C. for the national spelling bee and got 42nd, but it was a great experience. This year I’m aiming to win it.”

He said that being in spelling bees has been very beneficial.

“It has helped me with several things,” Taj said. “It has helped me with vocabulary, essay writing, writing in general and I get to apply these words to my everyday language.”

Dhilan has big plans, and big goals, too.

“My parents help me a lot with spelling and Taj does too,” Dhilan said. “I like competing with him, but I will like it more when he leaves because I will get to actually win. Like next year I am going to win.”

The Scripts Spelling Bees end in eighth grade, but Taj said that he might go on to do other spelling bees.

“There are other spelling bees that I could do,” Taj said. “I am going to make sure that I keep helping Dhilan so I can make sure that he wins the national spelling bee, but I don’t know if I am going to continue doing them. “

Now that he is in his second semester of eighth grade, Taj said that he is ready for high school.

“I have been doing a lot of ACT prep work already,” Taj said. “Just studying and doing some practice tests to get ready for it.”

Since winning second place in the Alabama State Spelling Bee last year, Taj said he has been working on several things to make sure that he wins it this year.

“I think I really need to work on my vocabulary,” Taj said. “And I need to study a lot more than I did last year.”

In the national spelling bee, a written spelling test as a challenge, he said. This year he said he is ready for the challenge.

“I have been focusing a lot on vocabulary,” Taj said. “But there is not really a way to study for the written test. They don’t give you the words or anything; they just pull it randomly from the dictionary. You just wing it and hope that you get some words that you know. I have been studying the dictionary more than I have last year and I’m older and wiser, so I think I’ll do better than I did last year.”

Taj said that it is an honor to represent Straughn in all of his spelling bees.

“Straughn is a great community,” Taj said. “It is great to be able to represent them because my dad is also an alumni from Straughn High School.”

Taj and Dhilan are the sons of Neil and Binita Patel.

Neil Patel, said he is beyond proud of their efforts in spelling.

“This last spelling bee, out of all of these years, I had no issues when both of them were the last two,” Patel said. “There was no stress at all, because it’s both of my boys, it doesn’t matter who wins, so I was not stressed at all. Any other spelling bee and my heart would be pounding. After I knew that they were the only two left, it was such a great feeling and I hope to have that great feeling again in my life, several times.”

Taj will travel to Alabaster on March 9 to participate in the state spelling bee.