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Spelling champion falls short in national contest


HOWARD COUNTY'S spelling bee champion, Priyanka Chavan, left the national competition last week disappointed.

Priyanka, a fifth-grader at Fulton Elementary School, was eliminated Wednesday after the second round. Her combined score from a 25-word written round one and the oral round two -- in which she clinched by correctly spelling "bartizan" (a small turret on a tower or wall) -- fell short of the required point total to move to round three.

"She was very, very depressed about it," said her mother, Meenakshi Chavan. "She said, 'I didn't get a chance to prove myself.' "

Priyanka was so upset that she returned to her Fulton home Wednesday and did not return to Washington Thursday to watch the rest of the 78th Scripps National Spelling Bee competition. A 13-year-old eighth-grader from California became the U.S. spelling champion by spelling "appoggiatura" (a musical term), correctly.

"It tells you that other children are working hard, too, and that she has to work harder," Meenakshi Chavan said. "I'm glad she had the experience."

In March, 11-year-old Priyanka bested 38 other Howard County pupils in a regional spelling bee -- sponsored by the Howard County Library and The Sun -- to advance to the national competition. She easily spelled her way to the county championship -- going through words such as "piebald," "cognate," "hypotonic," "amalgam."

Two teachers honored

Two Howard County teachers share the honor being named Music Educator of the Year by supporters of music in county public schools.

The Howard County Parents for School Music named Richard Roberts, band director at Ellicott Mills Middle School, and Kathryn Cammarata, orchestra director at Burleigh Manor Middle School and Centennial High School, co-recipients.

"This is the first time we had a tie," said Hillary Stishan, chairwoman of the parent music group, which has been giving the award since 1995.

A selection committee evaluated a nominee's ability to foster an individual student's skills and growth in music.

Roberts joined the Howard County school system in 1994 and began his tenure at Ellicott Mills in 2001. Cammarata began teaching in Howard County in 1979.

5,354 graduates

Howard County's commencement season for the Class of 2005 has come to an end.

During three days last week, 5,354 graduates walked across the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion and received their high school diplomas.

These seniors graduated from the county's 11 high schools, including Reservoir High School in Fulton, which had its first graduating class.

Contact Hanah Cho at 410-715-2837 or at hanah.

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