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Nashua 6th-grader says she's ready for national spelling bee

Union Leader Correspondent

May 26. 2014 8:19PM
Arushi Kalande, left, of Infant Jesus School, spells out her winning word to claim the New Hampshire Union Leader Spelling Bee title as Emma Bradley of Bow Memorial School listens at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader File)

NASHUA — Arushi Kalpande says she is both excited and nervous to take the stage in the preliminary rounds of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee, where she will begin competing for the title of America’s spelling bee champion.

“I am very honored to be participating,” Kalpande said before leaving for Washington D.C., on Sunday. Kalpande, 12, was the winner of the New Hampshire Union Leader Spelling Bee earlier this year, and will now compete in the national tournament as the Union Leader’s representative.

The sixth-grader from Infant Jesus School in Nashua says she has been studying about an hour each day for the past three months to prepare for the strenuous competition, which begins today with preliminary computer-based testing. A second and third round of preliminaries will occur on Wednesday, followed by the semifinals on Wednesday evening and the finals on Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

“This is definitely much harder than the state level, so I am definitely more nervous,” said Kalpande, who was greeted by her classmates on Friday with a school-wide pep-rally.

“I know this is going to take a lot of focus and concentration,” she said. “I am pretty comfortable with the words now, as I have worked hard to prepare for this.”

But being able to spell the words correctly is only half of the battle, said Kalpande, explaining there is a vocabulary component to the competition that makes it even more challenging.

“We believe she can do it,” said Kalpande’s father, Raju Kalpande. “Of course, we are so proud of her no matter what — and very excited.”

He is hopeful that his daughter will at least make it to the semi-final rounds.

“This is her first year, so we will take it one step at a time,” he said.

Arushi Kalpande will compete against 280 other spellers from across the country, ranging in age from 8-15. The 87th annual spelling bee tournament will be aired on ESPN3, ESPN2 and ESPN on select days, and also will be streaming online.

“The Scripps National Spelling Bee is one of America’s most enduring celebrations of academic excellence. It’s a great American tradition,” Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee said in a statement. “This event spotlights our mission to inspire children to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.”

This will be Kalpande’s first trip to the nation’s capital. Following the competition, she will participate in a tour of the city.

“I really enjoy science and history, so I really want to see the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History,” said Kalpande, who plays the violin and studies classical Indian dance at Triveni School of Dance in Brookline, Mass.

When she isn’t attending school or studying, Kalpande says she enjoys writing and drawing, and may some day aspire to become an author. The 61st annual New Hampshire Spelling Bee, which was presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader this past winter, was assisted by the New Hampshire State Elks Association.

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