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Tara Elementary speller finishes sixth in state

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

There is always next year. And the year after that. And, for what it's worth, there's also the year after that as well.

Tara Elementary School fifth-grader, Brittany Chopra, 11, hung in there at the Georgia Association of Educators' State Spelling Bee at Georgia State University's Student Center in Atlanta for just over two hours (the bee itself lasted approximately two-and-a-half hours) on Friday.

She finished as the sixth-best speller at the competition, out of 20 students from across Georgia.

She was done in by the world "calumny," during the 11th round of the competition.

"I think I did good, just because I've never gotten this far before," Chopra said.

Including Chopra, there were only four elementary students competing at the spelling bee. She was the last elementary school student to be eliminated. The spelling bee was won by Julia Denniss, 13, a seventh-grader from the Marist School, in Atlanta.

The state spelling champion advances to represent Georgia at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Washington D.C., in June.

Since Brittany Chopra is only a fifth-grader this year, she will have three more opportunities to compete for a State Spelling Bee championship. Under national, and state rules, the spelling bee is open to students up until they complete the eighth-grade.

Chopra was accompanied to the spelling bee by her older brother, Bhaskar Chopra, and Tara Elementary School Principal Cynthia Dickerson. Both the elder sibling and the principal said Brittany Chopra's success is due to her constantly studying words.

Brittany Chopra won the Clayton County Spelling Bee in January, and the District 5 Spelling Bee, at Mundy's Mill Middle School, in February.

"She's literally been preparing for this for over a year," Dickerson said.

"Getting sixth place in the State Spelling Bee, especially for a fifth-grader, is nothing to scoff at," Bhaskar Chopra said.

Dickerson said the youth's family has applied for her to be included in the admissions lottery for the math-and-science theme program at Rex Mill Middle School. Although Brittany Chopra's family lives in Hampton, her mother is a first-grade teacher at Tara Elementary, making the youth eligible to attend school in Clayton County, Dickerson said.

Still, hitting the dictionary is not something Brittany Chopra is going to be doing a lot of in the near future. "I think I'm going to take a little break from studying, [the dictionary] for a couple of months," she said.