While preparing for school, district, and state spelling bee competitions, Austin Elementary School fourth-grade student Sarv Dharavane, 10, learned to spell hundreds of words, a challenging task that ultimately paid off. His successful efforts won him the 63rd Annual Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee in March, which included an all-expenses-paid trip to National Harbor, Maryland, where he will compete in the nationally televised Scripps National Spelling Bee. Preliminaries begin on May 28. If he does well, he will compete in the finals on May 30.

In the state competition, Sarv won against 20 other spellers from third through eighth grades, ranging in age from 10 to 14. He expressed surprise at his victory.

“I beat everyone,” he said. “The second-place finalist was an eighth-grader who participated in the state meet four times, went to the national competition before, and finished second.”

The path to victory was not easy. Sarv said he worked hard to prepare for his school’s spelling bee, studying from a 450-word list that the school provided to participants. He also studied many words in the dictionary that were not on the list. He used an app called Word Club with a list of words he learned, which he said absolutely helped him during the district’s spelling bee competition.

“All the words came from that [Word Club] word list,” said Sarv.

He won the 2024 Georgia State Spelling Bee championship by correctly spelling the word “dashiki.” His parents, Shailesh Dharavane and Shilpa Tupe, helped him prepare for the competition, and his mother even took him to the library and selected books to read.

“[Sarv is] smart, no doubt about that,” said his father, Shailesh Dharavane. “But his mom did all the heavy lifting to ensure we are here.”

“We are so proud of him,” said Shilpa Tupe, who calls her son an Encyclopedia. “We never thought he would reach the nationals in his first spelling bee attempt, but we knew he would do his best. He never talked about winning the competition. He always said, ‘I will try my best at each level,’ and we knew he would.”

Sarv’s classmates, teachers, and the administration of Austin Elementary celebrated him on May 8, wishing him well in the national competition.

“We are so excited that he is heading off to represent the school, school district, and state in the national spelling bee,” said Austin Elementary Principal Avis Mooneyham.

It’s back to basics for Sarv as he readies himself for the national spelling bee by rereading the dictionary and other books. He is also practicing his vocabulary to prepare for the competition.

He says reading is crucial to winning spelling bees and succeeding in other activities and interests. Sarv encourages other students to find books that interest them and develop a love of learning, exploration, and enjoyment while flipping through the pages.

“Read your books, all the books,” Sarv said. “If you don’t read books, you’re never going to get anywhere.”

All the best to Sarv and his family as they participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. We will be following and cheering them on.