Patel headed back to National Spelling Bee

Published 12:22 am Thursday, May 16, 2019

For the past nine years, Straughn Middle School eighth grader Taj Patel has only known spelling bees, but after next week his spelling bee days will come to an end.

Last year, Patel participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the first time and tied for 42nd place out of 519 spellers. This year, Patel plans to win.

“I think I learned a lot of tips and tricks from participating in the National Spelling Bee last year,” Patel said. “I think the overall experience really helped me. I definitely feel more prepared this year.”

Patel has spent the last year studying as hard as he could to prepare for this year’s National Spelling Bee.

“My parents have been asking me some words and I have been really studying the dictionary,” Patel said. “Scripps actually sent us more than 600 words to study to prepare for round two of the competition, which is actually the first round that you spell in. So I have been looking at that as well. I usually spend about four to five hours a day studying. I have my own desk in my room, but I like to move around to the kitchen and the living room. I do take breaks though, like I’ll watch a movie or take a nap. I don’t want to get burnt out on studying.”

The National Spelling Bee is held in Washington, D.C., and Patel said that he is looking forward to experiencing D.C. again. 

“I met a lot of people last year so I am looking forward to seeing them again,” Patel said. “And last year we were able to look around D.C. a lot so I’m excited to do that again as well.”

With this being his last spelling bee, Patel said that he wants to make something out of it.

“I have spent the last nine years dedicating my life to this,” Patel said. “So, hopefully I will make something out of it. If I win, then I definitely want to roast Jimmy Kimmel, because the winner gets to go on his show. I’ll probably make fun of his hairline or something. Either way, my little brother is still going to be competing in these spelling bees, so if I don’t win, then he definitely will because I’m going to help him.”

Patel said that his support system at Straughn has been amazing.

“They have been so supportive,” Patel said. “In the mornings we have academic enrichment, but Mrs. Anderson lets me go over my spelling and during sixth period I get to go over spelling as well. They really care about how I do in the competitions.”

Now that Patel is heading to high school, his studying plans are shifting towards the ACT.

“I will probably spend time doing stuff that I haven’t been able to catch up on,” Patel said. “I’ll probably study a lot for the ACT and just get ready for the big change of high school. I mean, yes I do get tired of spelling, like any normal kid, but I have powered through it and kept my head in it.”

Patel leaves for Washington next Friday, and preliminaries for the Scripps National Spelling Bee will take place Mon., May 27, at 11 a.m.

The National Spelling Bee will be streamed live on ESPN starting with round 2p.m.  on Tues., May 28, at 9:45 a.m.