Super Speller

Pacific Trails Middle School eighth grader Yash Hande won the 48th Annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park in March. Yash qualified for the county spelling bee by first winning his classroom bee and then the school bee. In order to prepare, Yash said he studied words from different languages and from the online dictionary. He competed against 93 other seventh and eighth grade students in the four-hour countywide competition, and was finally crowned the champion after he correctly spelled the word “sphacelated” in the final round. He was presented a trophy by Rick Shea, president of the San Diego County Board of Education. Yash will move on to represent San Diego County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland at the end of May.

Yash has been participating in spelling bees since he was in first grade. His family has a history of being involved with spelling bees as well – his sister represented Carmel Valley Middle School in the county bee twice before. “It’s a great way to learn new words and meet new people,” Yash said. When he was crowned the winner of the county bee, he said, “It felt amazing. It made me really happy.” In his free time, Yash likes to play soccer, swim, and practice Tae Kwon Do.

This year’s regional bee marked the debut of a new spelling bee master, Timothy Randall, a University of San Diego professor of practice in charge of student internships and career opportunities. He replaced David Hay, who hosted the event for 35 years.