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Hillsboro speller eliminated, plans return

COURTESY SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE - Vipanchi Mungara, a seventh-grader from Hillsboro's Carden Cascade Academy, stands on stage during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., waiting to spell her word. Twelve-year-old Vipanchi Mungara, a seventh-grader at Hillsboro’s Carden Cascade Academy, reached the third round of the Scripps National Spelling before being eliminated on May 25.

The year before, she had been the runner-up at the Regional Spelling Bee. This year, Vipanchi won the Portland Tribune/ Comcast Regional Spelling Bee on March 12. Her victory earned her a free trip to Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The first round was a written test of both spelling and vocabulary. The next two rounds were oral, where Vipanchi’s mother, Archana, estimated 125 of the 285 students were eliminated. After that, 45 finalists were named combining scores from the written test and the two oral rounds, Vipanchi was not named a finalist.

To prepare for the National Spelling Bee, Vipanchi says she studied three to four hours a day, studying word roots, languages, exceptions and especially difficult words.

Vipanchi says she is thankful to have gotten this far in the competition.

“It was daunting and amazing to see the champions and finalists from last year and winners from all parts of the country,” Vipanchi says. “It felt nice to represent the Portland region.”

Her mother says the trip to the national contest has been an exciting one.

“It’s a confirmation that this is a journey, and the way to continued success is through hard work and perseverance,” she says.

After being eliminated from the competition, Archana Mungara says Vipanchi returned to the hotel room and continued to practice spelling.

“It was interesting and endearing to see her keep the momentum and just come back into the room to continue practicing,” Archana Mungara says. “I am thankful that she plows through and doesn’t want to give up.”

Vipanchi is one of two Oregonians to make the Scripps National Spelling Bee, joining sixth-grader Marin Gray who attends Joseph Lane Middle School in Roseburg. Gray also made it to the third round of the National Spelling Bee.

Mungara says she plans on trying to make the National Spelling Bee next year in her last year of eligibility. She says there are a lot of takeaways from her trip to Washington, D.C.

“I added a multitude of words to my repertoire,” she says. “My vocabulary has greatly expanded and I know what else to focus on. I’ve connected with new spellers and word nerds from across the country.”

There were 285 spellers competing in the National Spelling Bee. The winners were fifth-grader Nihar Janga and seventh-grader Jairam Hathwar.