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Spelling bee champ 'really excellent' at San Diego school

June 2, 2012 |  6:00 am


National spelling champion Snigdha Nandipati will not be back at her San Diego school until next week, but at least one of her former teachers is already crowing about her success.

Dan Lang, middle school dean of students at Francis Parker School, was Snigdha's seventh-grade English teacher last year and called her “really excellent across the board.”

Seventh-graders were expected to read “The Outsiders” over the summer, but on the first day of class, Snigdha arrived with an entire report, complete with artwork, an essay and a reflection.

That was not part of the assignment, Lang said, but Snigdha said she simply wanted to share her excitement about the book. And yet, “at school,” Lang said, “she’s just another kid.”

"She’s not sitting by herself at lunch going over her flash cards,” he said.

Snigdha's initiative drove her to start a spelling bee at Francis Parker, which had a Math Field Day, Science Olympiad and other programs, but not a spelling bee, Lang said.

Snigdha had started competing in spelling bees in fourth and fifth grade before arriving at Francis Parker, so when she got there, she jump-started the process of getting her school connected to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Snigdha was knocked out in the semifinals of the national bee last year by the word “kerystic.” She didn’t miss a single word on stage this time around.

“Last year, after missing, I realized I have to work a lot harder,” said Snigdha, who added that she studied up to 12 hours a day. “I really wanted to better my score.”


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Spelling bee champ Snigdha Nadipati studied up to 12 hours a day

For spelling bee champ, anxious seconds before celebration began

-- Matt Stevens