By John Ramos

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – When you have been occupied for weeks honing your ability to spell the toughest words in the English language, a simple request needs some careful consideration.

Two-time CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee champion Rutvik Gandhasri recently sat down with KPIX 5 reporter John Ramos at San Jose’s Chaboya Middle School to discuss his weekend victory in the regional finals.

So Ramos first question to Gandhasri caused him to pause for a few moments.

“Give me your name and spelling?” asked Ramos.

“Uh, what should I spell, again?” Gandhasri responded.

Gandhasri was a regional winner and finalist in last year’s Scripp’s National Spelling Bee. On Saturday, he took a major step toward repeating or bettering that finish by successfully defending his regional crown.

“I definitely thought that it would be hard to win for two years in a row but it’s not impossible if you study enough,” he said.

Gandhasri studies a lot and it helps that Cheboya has such a strong academic culture.

The school’s quad area is decorated with algebraic symbols and each day the entire school stops everything and reads for 20 minutes.

And at Cheboya, the spelling bee competition isn’t optional. Everyone has to at least give it a try at the school level.

“They start to value education, value learning, and they take it on and they run with it, which is excellent,” said principal Derrick Watkins. “It’s what you want them to do…be life-long learners.”

Gandhasri said the national competition is usually won by whoever is lucky enough to get familiar word, but then after a few moments he admits that may not be true.

“I mean, if you actually know every word and you’ve gone through everything…there’s really no luck to it,” he said.


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