Fourth grader advances to regional bee at McKendree
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
For the second year in a row, Varun Pandey is the spelling bee champion of Mark Twain Elementary School.
At first it looked like he might win easily, when the field of 29 spellers was cut down to three in only six rounds. But it took the fourth grader five more grueling rounds to win, as he went toe-to-toe with fifth graders Joseph Blase and Eric O’Neal.
O’Neal was eliminated in round 9. Blase and Pandey both misspelled their words in round 10 before Pandey won with “merge.” It was a comparatively easy word in a spelling bee that included such toughies as duvet, wraith, thyme, whip-poor-will and nihilism.
“The toughest word for me was ‘disentangle,’” said Pandey, who is a student in Anne Mitchell’s class.
Pandey is among several hundred school champions in the region who will advance to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. He will take a written spelling test there on March 7 and if he scores high enough he’ll return for an oral test on March 14. The winner at McKendree goes to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in late May. The last Brentwood resident to reach the national bee was fifth-grader Rounak Bera in 2011.
McGrath Elementary School’s spelling bee champion, who will be determined on Jan. 23, will also compete at McKendree.