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Yashna Nainani knows her words. She’s been winning spelling bee contests since the third grade.
The Chickahominy eighth grader won all three countywide spelling bees in her middle school career. She was the county runner-up in fifth grade, the county champion the year prior, and the school champ before that.
This year, she’s made it her farthest yet, and she did so by correctly spelling “chresard,” a word that Spell Check doesn’t even recognize. The kid is officially smarter than a computer program.
Yashna represented Hanover County Public Schools at the 39th annual Richmond Times-Dispatch Regional Spelling Bee on March 9, at the Library of Virginia, where she competed against students from about 30 central Virginia school divisions.
It took 16 rounds, but she came out on top and now advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Yashna will be one of five Virginians competing in the national competition in Maryland at the end of May.
“It felt amazing, especially because it was my first time ever winning the regionals, so I was really happy,” she said of her recent victory.
It was her first time even placing in regionals.
“I was just happy being in the top three, honestly,” she said.
Yashna put in the studying to earn her win. She asked her teachers, family, and friends to quiz her, and she also used a computer program that prompted her with words to type.
She’s preparing the same way for the national bee.
“They’re fun to do. I just love competing,” she said.
“The words help you,” Yashna added. “It helps in my writing and everyday vocab.”
She’s broadening her vocabulary not only in English, but also Spanish and Latin. The middle schooler is getting a head start on high school by taking both those subjects—and a math course—across the bus loop at Atlee.
That might be the extent of her Atlee experience. Yashna has applied to attend the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School next year.
When not spelling, Yashna enjoys dance and participates in Chickahominy’s Reading Olympics program.
She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Raj Nainani of Mechanicsville.