After 13 rounds of competition over more than three hours Thursday night, Stone Middle School student Ashrita Gandhari emerged as the champion in the 2019 Loudoun County Spelling Bee.
The 11-year-old sixth grader topped a field of 78 elementary and middle spellers to win the honor of representing Loudoun in the Scripps National Spelling Bee that will be held starting May 27 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, MD.
Her final challenge word was “seance,” a meeting at which people attempt to make contact with the dead.
Those who didn’t advance during the Feb. 28 competition should not be too discouraged, however. They lost to one of the best youth spellers in the country.
This won’t be Ashrita’s first trip to the national spelling bee; it will be her third.
For the past two years, she competed as a representative of Franklin Elementary School in North Andover, MA. As a fourth grader she made it all the way to the top 40.
Her family moved to Ashburn last year pursuing work opportunities. And Ashrita kept rolling at her new school, winning Stone Hill’s school-wide spelling bee.
The national spelling bee is broadcast on ESPN, but you may have the opportunity to see Ashrita on the big screen even before that Memorial Day weekend competition. She is one of four Indian-American spellers—and the only girl—featured in a new documentary, “Breaking the Bee,” which will be screened during the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX, next week.