has a full plate.
Besides school and the academic commitments that come with it, the Deerfield eighth grader also plays basketball and participates in theater.
When he captured the school spelling bee at , Guru's schedule suddenly had another item to juggle to prepare for Wednesday night's Lake County Spelling Bee Sectional at School in Deerfield.
But what the 13-year-old is quickly learning is that if he wants to make room for more, there are sacrifices. But there are also dividends.
"I had to skip some of my extracurricular activities to make time for studying," Guru said. "I also had to work around school work. But now that it was all worth something, it shows that hard work does pay off."
Guru is one of four students to qualify out of the sectional to the Lake County Spelling Bee Finals on March 14 at College of Lake County in Grayslake. The county winner has the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The rest of the quartet includes Grace Chiou from , Pranav Sivakumar from and Alex Banta from in Lake Forest.
Guru survived through eight rounds of competition, which saw the field begin with 44 participants and eventually narrow down to less than 10. The event lasted close to three hours, not only testing a student's spelling ability but nerves as well.
"I do feel very good about my performance," Guru said. "Last year, I did not qualify for the school round, but with the fact that I have made it to victory in the sectional round the very next year, I am definitely proud of my accomplishment."
His sister, Kyla, a fourth grader at South Park, also competed but was eliminated in an earlier round.
The preparation for the sectional went beyond just studying spelling lists. That was easy compared to creating the time to do it.
"Going through several lists is a hard task, especially if it means taking time out of your daily schedule," Guru said. "I had to skip some of my extracurricular activities to make time for studying."
Like basketball. Guru plays on a house league team that is prepping for a postseason semifinal game against one of the better teams. He had to miss the practice to study. Same with theater. He's currently a member of the cast for the school's upcoming musical, but he had to skip a rehearsal to study.
"I enjoy the extracurricular activities I do, and am reluctant at first to skip them," he said.
But like those activities - a basketball game, a play - the spelling bee provided a means to an end - the competition itself.
"It takes hard work, friends and family support, and preparation to win these kind of competitions," he said.