YPSILANTI (WWJ) – Students at South Arbor Charter Academy in Ypsilanti will be watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN on Thursday hoping their classmate can leave the competition spellbound.

The 12-year-old Kavya Pratapa, a student at South Arbor, is among the 50 semifinalists competing in Washington DC Thursday.  This is Kavya’s third year competing.

Jen Watenpool, the dean of students at South Arbor, said that Pratapa had an ambitious game plan for this year’s spelling bee.  When her principal asked her how she was going to prepare differently from last year, Pratapa said her strategy was to “memorize the dictionary.”

“I do know that she spends a lot of time working on spelling bee things. In fact, this year she asked if she could opt out of our Spanish program so that she could use that time to study spelling,” said Watenpool.

Watenpool said that Kavya does most of her spelling bee work at home, where there could be some competition brewing.  Kavya’s younger sister is already showing prowess as a super-speller.

“She’s in the 4th grade and she is following right along the path of her sister in terms of academics,” said Watenpool.  “So I imagine that she’ll be in the same position in a few years.”

The 7th grader enjoys reading fiction and classical literature, too.   She takes accelerated classes, and plays flute and violin in the school’s band and orchestra – but still finds time for spelling.

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