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Beaverton girl tries for third regional spelling bee title

Divya Amirtharaj, 13, wants to earn her way back to the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a victory in Portland this Saturday.


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Divya Amirtharaj, 13, of Beaverton hopes to win this Saturday's Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee and earn her way back to the national competition. This photo was taken during the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee.If there is a new winner at this Saturday’s 12th-annual Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee, that student will have to discomfit two-time winner Divya Amirtharaj of Beaverton’s Meadow Park Middle School.

Indeed, this reporter had to look up “discomfit,” but the student who is prepared to overthrow the eighth-grader surely wouldn’t need a dictionary.

Divya, 13, earned her way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., with each of her past regional victories, but she said she’s taking nothing for granted in her third attempt.

“I would say my odds may be a little higher,” she said, “but it’s still anyone’s game because of the luck factor.”

The contest, which is co-sponsored by Community Newspapers Inc. (including the Beaverton Valley Times), features the top spellers from about 50 schools from across Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties. The competitors must be in grades four through eight but may come from any public, private, charter or home school.

Divya said luck was on her side two years ago when, without any specific training, she was an unknown who surprised the competition.

That first year she leaned heavily on her ability, fed by a voracious appetite for books.

“I read a lot. There’s very few series in our public library that I haven’t touched for my age group,” she said. “I just like words.”

After her first regional victory, she began studying specifically for competition.

Divya’s goal this year, her final attempt because of grade level, is to be the first three-time winner of the regional bee and then make it to at least the semifinal round at the national bee. She narrowly missed reaching that level last at the 2014 bee on her second trip.

After her spelling career ends, she plans to focus her good study habits on her next goal – a career in biomedical engineering.

The contest, which is co-sponsored by Pamplin Media Group's Community Newspapers (including the Beaverton Valley Times), features the top spellers from about 50 schools from across Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties. The competitors must be in grades four through eight but may come from any public, private, charter or home school.

The regional spelling bee will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Portland.

The following are Beaverton-area winners (and grade level) whose schools reported them as qualifiers for the regional competition on Saturday:

• Anthony Bounnam (7), Aloha-Huber Park

• Kiana Hamada (6), Arts & Communication Magnet Academy

• Rupert Li (7), Cedar Park Middle School

• Brandon Spelts (7), Conestoga Middle School

• Violet Turner (6), Five Oaks Middle School

• Jasmine Yu (8), Highland Park Middle School

• Ayesha Sheikh (8), International School of Beaverton

• Divya Amirtharaj (8), Meadow Park Middle School

• D.J. Nghiem (7), Mountain View Middle School

• Shriya De (5), Oregon Episcopal School

• Tapabrata Ghosh (8), Stoller Middle School

• Julian Dukes (8), Whitford Middle School

• Lucas Lally (8), Beaverton home-schooler

• Ella Sohn (5), French American International School


By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
503-906-7903
email: eapalategui@commnewspapers.com
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