After 14 rounds, three hours and two final words, Forsyth County Schools has a new spelling bee champion: 11-year-old Prajwal Anand Saokar.
The county’s annual bee, which serves as a qualifier for the Georgia Association of Educators, or GAE, district spelling bee, was held Monday at Forsyth Central High School’s performing arts center.
Saokar, a Riverwatch Middle School student, and four others will attend the district competition, which will be held Feb. 25 at the DeKalb County Board of Education complex in Atlanta.
The runners-up, who placed second, third and fourth and the alternate, who placed fifth, respectively, are: Johns Creek Elementary School student Amaar Alidina, 10; Otwell Middle School student Janki Shah, 13; Piney Grove Middle School student Adil Shaik, 12; and Chattahoochee Elementary School student Navya Bharath Shankar, 10.
Winners and runners-up in the district competition will move on to the state spelling bee, with the state winner advancing to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Georgia’s 2016 State Spelling Bee Champion was 13-year-old South Forsyth Middle School student Akshat Gautam, the first Forsyth County student to win at the state level.
The state is broken up into nine districts, with Forsyth part of District 4. Other counties included in District 4 are DeKalb, Fulton, Douglas and Carroll.
Greg Orr, an educator and past president of the local chapter of the Georgia Association of Educators, Amanda Wilson, a retired local educator and representative of the Forsyth County Retired Educators Association, and Derek Brooks, a member of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, judged the event.
James McCoy, president and CEO of the Chamber, served as emcee and word caller.
To win the competition, the two finalists, Saokar and Alidina, had to spell two consecutive words correctly.
Saokar correctly spelled “hypotenuse,” followed by “exquisite,” to win the bee.
He said it felt good to win, though he was a little surprised.
“I’m a little shocked,” he said. “All the stress and me and [Alidina] going head-to-head like that was scary. But [all] I can say is don’t take shortcuts and don’t be nervous.”