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Seventh-grader, fifth-grader win Gainesville Schools district spelling bees
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Gainesville Middle School seventh-grader Rasmit Devkota smiles as he spells the winning word Friday, Feb 9, 2018 to win the Gainesville City Schools spelling bee. Seventh-grader Zephaniah Burton, right, was the contest runner-up. - photo by Scott Rogers

Surrounded by shelves full of books and standing in front of six rows of chairs, Rasmit Devkota spelled the word “ricochet” with ease.

And just like that, on Friday afternoon, in the silence of the Gainesville Middle School library, Devkota beat out the other 30 contestants to win the Gainesville City School Spelling Bee on Friday afternoon.

The runner-up was Zephaniah Burton, an eighth-grader at Gainesville.

“I was just trying to go through every word I’ve memorized and make sure that I had the letter right before I said it out loud,” said Devkota, a seventh-grader at Gainesville.

He will be headed to the Georgia Association of Educators region spelling bee on Feb. 24 where winners from other schools in the northeast Georgia region will gather for a chance to go to the the state competition. The winner there will move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Devkota said he studied by looking at the list of words on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. He also said he can attribute his knack for spelling to his love of mythology and history books.

His favorite historical book is “War and Peace,” which has more than 1,000 pages.

“I read in most of my free time,” Devkota said. “So I’ve seen lots of words and I know how to spell a lot of them.”

The elementary school competition was also on Friday, just before the middle school’s.

At one point, Hannah Stewart, a fifth-grader at Enota Elementary, mouthed “wow” to her parents sitting near the back after she nervously spelled a word correctly.

Hannah said her dad taught English and she’s always liked reading more than math or science, which is why she thinks she’s good at spelling. 

She was nervous, but even so she beat 17 other students after 11 rounds to win the bee with the word “infraction.” Ella Beccue, a fifth-grader at Centennial Arts Academy, was the runner-up.

“I’m really excited,” Hannah said. “It’s a little overwhelming because last year I didn’t think I would ever get to this point.”