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Meet Akshra Paimagam: The Charlotte Native Competing In This Week's Scripps Spelling Bee

T. Ortega Gaines
The Charlotte Observer
Akshra Paimagam, a middle-schooler at Randolph Middle, spells the winning word "hiatus" at the 2015 Charlotte Observer Spelling Bee.

Spellers from around the country are pouring into Washington, D.C. this week for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Among those 291 spellers will be 14-year-old Akshra Paimagam (a.k.a. speller 276), a native Charlottean and 8th grader at Randolph Middle School.

This year will be Paimagam's second time competing in the national bee. She was last seen in the competition in 2015, when she made it into the semifinals and tied for 39th.

This year, Paimagam is feeling a little more prepared and a little more experienced. She joined WFAE's Morning Edition the day before leaving for the nation's capitol to talk about her history as a speller, and how she's getting ready for this year's competition.


On her favorite word

I don't have any exact favorite word, but I love German cheese words, in general. I love the category of German cheese words.

On winning her first spelling competition in second grade

I just loved the way the words came to me, and I loved reading about words and being there. I just loved performing. I thought of it more as kind of a performance, and as fun.

On her first time competing in the Scripps National Bee in 2015

It was really amazing to meet other spellers who are really experienced and know what they're doing, and to be able to see them spelling onstage was like, I don't know ... it was great experience for me.

On her secret weapon

I have a lucky jacket - my lucky blue jacket. I don't know where that came from, exactly, but I wore it in 6th grade. I wore it for every one of my bees, and I made it to the national bee, so ... I'm just really comfortable with that jacket.