‘Local spellebrity’: 14-year-old is only NC student heading to Spelling Bee semifinals

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46) – There’s really only one word that properly describes 14-year-old Sreethan Gajula’s new status in life.

“A local spellebrity, I guess,” said Sreethan.

Okay, so that word isn’t in the dictionary, but he’s been studying the other 270,000 or so that are.

“I did lists upon lists. Any list I could find, I would study,” said Sreethan. “There were times I’d study eight to ten hours straight, into the middle of the night.”

When he competed in the Scripps Spelling Bee quarterfinals on Tuesday, he was a bit…

“Nervous. N-E-R-V-O-U-S,” spelled Sreethan. “As my turn got closer, I could feel my heart beating faster. Sweatier palms.”

It wasn’t just him.

“I think it’s excruciating. It’s stressful for sure, for all the parents who’ve gone through this,” said dad, Sreedhar Gajula.

“He wanted to be one of them. That just gives me goosebumps,” said mom, Smitha.

The 14-year-old has been working towards the Scripps National Spelling Bee for years. He’s been spelling at school and even at the Panthers Stadium.

All his time on stage helped him be…

“Confident. C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T.”

He’ll need it too. He’s the only student from North Carolina who’ll be heading to the semifinals at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

He didn’t take any shortcuts.

“May I have a definition, please?” asked Sreethan.

“Something that messes up all your text messages,” said Fox 46 reporter, Maureen Wurtz.

“Autocorrect. A-U-T-O-C-O-R-R-E-C-T,” spelled Sreethan. “I feel that, sure you can use it if you want, but I don’t feel it’s necessary.”

While he’ll keep studying all of the other words, there’s one he’ll be working towards for the next few weeks.

“Can I have it in a sentence?” asked Sreethan.

“You will be the spelling bee champion,” said Wurtz.

“Champion. C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N,” smiled Sreethan.

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