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Local Speller Almost Makes Finals of National Bee

A seventh-grader from Pearland came within one round of the National Spelling Bee finals today before he was tripped-up by a word he’d never heard before.


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Here was the word Aditya Chemudupaty heard from official pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailey.

“Grenache. Grenache is widely planted in hot, dry regions all over the world.”

Chemudupaty, who attends Nolan Ryan MIddle School in Pearland, couldn’t decide between “gre” or “gra”.

“G-r-e sounded better, but when I looked at it in my head, when I visualized it, “g-r-a” looked better, so I just went with it and then I heard the dreaded ding.”

Turns out “grenache” is spelled “grenache”. It’s a type of grape used in winemaking. Chemudupaty says he had a great time at the spelling bee and hopes to return. 

“Next year will be my last year even though I’m only 12. I have to make it really, really good. There’s always that little hope
that you’ll make it on your first try, but I’m rather pleased with the result that I had.”  

He was one of about 300 contestants at the National Spelling Bee. He was sponsored by Houston PBS.

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Jack Williams

News Anchor

Jack is back in Houston after some time away working in public radio and television in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for the Midwest, he worked in various roles at Houston Public Media from 2000-2016, including reporting, hosting and anchoring. Jack has also worked in commercial news radio in Houston, Austin...

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