NO COLLISION HERE: Patel wins fourth straight county spelling bee

Published 11:00 am Sunday, March 10, 2024

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Straughn Middle School eighth-grader Dhilan Patel was named the Covington County Spelling Bee champion for the fourth consecutive year on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Pleasant Home School.

He won the SMS spelling bee on Monday, Jan. 5, and correctly spelled the word “collision” to capture the county title after a nearly 2-hour competition at PHS. Patel first began spelling when he was only four years old.

“This win means a lot to me because I want to attend the National Spelling Bee, which I am now one step closer to from winning this county title. I am ecstatic and slightly nervous because I want another chance to compete at the National Spelling Bee. However, it is a different experience than the county spelling bee,” Patel said.

His first county title came in the fifth grade at Straughn Elementary School. He then won all three school years from the sixth grade through the eighth grade at Straughn Middle School.

“I studied ‘Words of the Champions’ and the dictionary to prepare myself. To have the opportunity to represent Covington County at the state level for the fourth year in a row means everything,” he said.

Patel will compete in the Alabama Spelling Bee on Saturday, March 16, at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Previously the state champion in 2021, he will look to advance to his second Scripps National Spelling Bee. A total of 52 students will compete at the state level, ranging from the fourth through eighth grades.

“I will be practicing and studying more and studying different material such as word roots now because this a different ballgame. I am interested to see how well others have prepared throughout the state,” he said.

The winner of the Alabama Spelling Bee will represent the state at the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held from May 26 through June 1 in National Harbor, Maryland.

“The support of my friends and family is the foundation of my success. Without them, I could not have achieved all that I have so far,” Patel said.

He is the son of Neil and Binita Patel with an older brother, Taj.