Nashua student at national spelling bee

NASHUA – Nashua student Arushi Kalpande, 14, of Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School made it into the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the third consecutive year.

Out of a national pool of nearly 300 skilled spellers, Arushi tied for 22nd place at the bee in Washington, D.C. last week, and was one of eight students present who made it to the bee for three years in a row.

"It was a lot of fun, I always look forward to going to D.C. It was also my last chance because it only goes to the eighth grade," Arushi said in a Thursday interview at her school. She said she enjoyed spending time with other spellers like her, and visiting the sights in the city, particularly the National Museum of Natural History.

Preparing for the competition took practice, and Arushi has been honing her spelling skills for years now. "The first spelling bee I went to was first grade, and I started collecting works and lists since first grade," she said, adding her parents and younger sister, Anvita, helped quiz her on her spelling. "I also study language patterns to figure out words I don’t know, and I study Greek and Latin roots," Arushi said. She also spent time reading through the dictionary.

"It’s definitely a really great experience, anyone who is thinking if they should do it, should definitely do it," she said of joining the spelling bee.

In the final round, Arushi was among the top 45 spellers in the country. The word she ultimately misspelled was "rhamphotheca," which is the outer surface of a bird’s beak.

Arushi said the competition means much more than sharpening your spelling skills, "It’s also about time management, and learning speech patterns-which helps you learn about difference cultures based on words," she said, "It helps you become a better global citizen."

And finally, she said the experience on a national stage helped with her public speaking skills.

"She really did have a lot of strength," said Mary Kirkwood, admissions coordinator at Nashua Catholic. Kirkwood said despite the pressure of the competition, Arushi appeared calm.

Nashua Catholic Principal Glenda McFadden said all 180 of the school’s students got in on the excitement last week as classrooms streamed the ESPN coverage of the spelling bee as it unfolded. "It was very exciting to watch her, and the kids were very excited," McFadden said. The student body also offered a prayer of thanksgiving for Arushi, "For me, as principal, that was very exciting."

While there isn’t a high school-level competition, Arushi said her interests in science and math will keep her busy with new competitions next year. Already a participant in Mathcounts, a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program, she placed 15 in her chapter for the Southern New Hampshire region this spring.

Also this spring, Arushi qualified for the National History Bee, an academic competition for middle school students on historical topics, along with classmates Claire Reynolds, Katarina Junod, Randal Brown. However, because of the timing for her eighth grade graduation June 13, she won’t be heading to the national competition in Chicago.

More information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, including information on winners and practice spelling quizzes, can be found online at spellingbee.com.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402, tforbes@nashuatelegraph. com or @Telegraph_TinaF.