12-year-old wins state spelling bee - WFSB 3 Connecticut

12-year-old wins state spelling bee

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Arain Bhandari won the state spelling bee (WFSB) Arain Bhandari won the state spelling bee (WFSB)
WEST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

A 12-year-old from West Haven now has the title of being the best speller in Connecticut.

Arain Bhandari, the new champ, actually took part in the state spelling bee last year for the first time as a fifth grader.

He was back again this year, knew what to expect, and he took home the crown.

"It’s sort of like nervous and exciting at the same time, especially when you get to a milestone, top 10, top 5, but it’s also nervous when it’s your word to spell, when you go up to the mic, your heart shuts down,” Bhandari said.

On Saturday, the practice paid off as the sixth grader at Carrigan Middle School, beat other champion spellers from across the state.

While the whole school is pretty excited, Assistant Principal Rich Weber, said they're not surprised.

"It’s impressive to see. To win a classroom, that’s one thing. To go to win the school, and to go on to that next level and win the district, you know what you're up against in West Haven, but to go beyond that, puts West Haven against some of the best schools that are out there and shows that we can hold our own and even win,” Weber said.

He’s not only a top-notch speller, but Bhandari is also pretty well-rounded.

He swims competitively, while taking part in the school band and the drama club.

And he says he's also your typical 12-year-old, who loves video games and pizza. He said the big win is a perfect cap to a big weekend.

"Many people underestimate me, I look short for my age. I turned 12 on Friday, I managed to win and I’m like ‘best birthday gift, ever’,” Bhandari said.

In addition to the title of state champion, Bhandari received $1,000 in scholarship money, along with a trip to the nationals in Washington D.C. during Memorial Day weekend.

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