What makes a young person a good speller?
In the Guru household of Deerfield a lot of reading plays a big role and is one of the reasons Pranav and Kyla Guru will both be on stage Wednesday at South Park Elementary School to compete in the South Lake County Sectional Spelling Bee.
“By reading a lot,” Naganat Guru, the children’s father said when asked why two such good spellers were in one family. “Their mother takes them to the library and they search for words (when reading).”
Pranav, a Caruso Middle School eighth grader, and South Park fourth grade student Kyla, won their schools’ individual Spelling Bees and will compete against students from 20 south Lake County institutions for the right to eventually compete for a national title in Washington.
Winners at the Sectional must win one more round before earning a trip to the nation’s capital, according to Pranav. The significance of being an eighth grader competing is not lost on him. “As an eighth grader it’s my last chance (to go to Washington),” he said.
Writing makes a difference too. Pranav is already a published author on Ezine on line magazine on topics like income inequality, the war on terror and the environment. The subjects have an international flavor for him.
“I was reading about South Africa and saw the effect of income inequality there,” Pranav said. “It can be an economic problem for a country. I kept researching and wrote about South Africa, Kenya, the United States and India.”
Phonetics plays a role for Kyla. She has learned she can rely on the sound of words to help her get it right. “Words are often spelled like they sound,” Kyla said. “When I listen it is usually like I think it is.”
The family also knows how to pull together to help each other. Pranav earned his victory Jan. 30 but Kyla would not compete until Feb. 10. Since the Bees were held during school hours, Kyla did not know her brother won.
“I told her I was the runner up,” Pranav said. “We didn’t want to pressure her.”
Kyla learned about her brother’s win after she secured her own victory. “Mr. (Dave) Sherman told her right after he announced the winner,” mother Jay Guru said. Sherman is the South Park principal.
Unlike all other schools in the district and Wednesday’s Sectional format, South Park has a written competition. Everywhere else the student stands at a microphone and spells the world out loud.
“See that desk,” Naganat Guru said pointing to a typical student desk in the family living room. “That’s where she practiced.” Now the entire family is drilling her to get her ready to stand on a stage before a crowd.
Meanwhile, Kyla is enjoying the prestige she is getting from her schoolmates by winning as a fourth grade student over a fifth grader.
“It feels really great that everyone knows I’m a good speller,” Kyla said. “I pass fifth graders in the hall and they say ‘good job.’ It was cool.”
For now, both Pranav and Kyla are putting in a lot of extra study time to be ready for the Sectional. “We keep reviewing,” he said. “Everybody we know will be there. You have to study.” A look at the refrigerator in the Guru kitchen shows post its with difficult words. Everywhere Pranav and Kyla look at home they have a chance to practice.