Our network

Georgia teen makes it to final 49 in national spelling bee | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Georgia teen makes it to final 49 in national spelling bee

ATLANTA (WXIA) – A Woodward Academy 8th grader is in the national spotlight as one of the top 49 students at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The competition began 285 contestants.

Mona Mahadevan lives in Dunwoody, but attends Woodward Academy in College Park.

In recent weeks, she has spent at least four hours a night, in-between homework, studying for the national spelling bee.

She also devoted 8-10 hours of her weekend to preparing for the competition.

Mona participated in her first spelling bee in second grade and admits she didn't really like it.

"It was just a lot of preparation. I was just so young, too. I didn't want to work that hard," she said.

By fourth grade, she started to feel the thrill of competition.

"I think it was just brain maturity. I realized it was going to take work, but I enjoyed, so it was worth it," said Mona.

She's very specific in her studying, thanks to advice from her older brother who enjoyed spelling bees and is now in medical school.

"He (her brother) told me not memorize all the words, instead to skip over all the words and start trying to get to the words I don't know," said Mona. "I take language rules and roots and I'll try to find all the exceptions to all the rules I know, and just memorize those."

So far, she has passed the first four rounds, including a written exam.

"Mona also knows how to win and how to lose, so she goes through it knowing both things can happen and she can deal with both," said her math teacher, Angela McCreery. "She has a lot to teach people about that. It's not about winning. It's about doing it."

Her English teacher, Carolyn Kramlich said Mona has four major things going for her: memory, drive, family and Woodward Academy.

"She has this memory that won't quit. She can remember every word she's ever spelled in an oral bee. She's also got this drive because she's been working toward the bee," said Kramlich. "She has family. There's a tradition of spelling and her mother and father have been so supportive. Finally, she has Woodward Academy. Woodward is so excited to have this student in the national spotlight.