Austin Regional Spelling Bee Announces Winner

Kealing Middle School Student headed to Scripps National Spelling Bee

Austin, Texas, March 26, 2018–Pranathi Jammula, a 7th grader at Kealing Middle School (Austin Independent School District) was crowned champion at yesterday’s Austin Regional Spelling Bee at the ZACH Topfer Theatre. She will represent Austin in the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC.

The Austin Regional Spelling Bee went 12 rounds before declaring Jammula the winner. She correctly spelled the winning word “coriaceous” 3.5 hours into the competition, advancing over 46 other competing student spellers to claim her victory.

Jammula has participated in the bee program since 3rd grade and has advanced to the regional level for four years.  In 2017, she placed 3rd at the Houston Public Media spelling bee, just missing the National Competition. This will be her first chance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.


Prior to 2018, students advancing in the Scripps program in and around Austin had to travel to Houston to participate for a chance to advance to the National Bee. According to the Scripps National Spelling bee organization, Austin was one of the largest markets without its own bee, and a market that they had been hoping to foster for quite some time. This first-ever regional bee was presented by the West Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Pranathi’s mother, Prasanna, says that the entire family is excited for her win. “We are very happy to see Pranathi advancing to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. For sure, her hard work has paid off. We want her to make Austin proud again on the national stage and know that she will step up the intensity to give her best in DC.”


Prasanna says that Pranathi has been working hard for years to make her national competition dream a reality and that she has spent countless hours studying, spending time practicing and quizzing with her sister, Triyatha, a third grader who was also a participant in this year’s Austin Regional Spelling Bee.

Pranav Nandakumar, a 7th grader at The Magellan International School, took 2nd place at the event.  He successfully advanced through 11 rounds of the competition, going word-for-word with Jammula for 6 rounds until incorrectly spelling the word “litterateur.” Third place was awarded to Chris Gugleta of Holy Family Homeschoolers.

Inspiration for the Bee was provided to the West Austin Chamber of Commerce by local Leander ISD student and 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee Co-Champion, Nihar Janga. In early 2017, Janga and his father Narayana Janga mentioned the opportunity to sponsor the bee locally.  Yesterday’s Regional Bee marks just over one year from that initial conversation.  And in a fun change of roles, Nihar Janga was able to serve as a judge in yesterday’s competition.

West Austin Chamber of Commerce President Morgan Briscoe said that yesterday’s event was a fun and successful event for the student participants, their families, and the city of Austin as a whole.

“We hope that having the opportunity to advance to the regional bee right here in Austin helps us increase interest and participation in the program here locally in the coming years,” said Briscoe. “From elementary school on up, we want to help promote the love of spelling, language and learning.  Pranathi’s story is one of dedication and perseverance and we can’t wait to cheer her on at Nationals.”

The Scripps National Spelling Bee’s Bee Week will take place from May 27th-June 1st at the Gaylord National Resort outside of DC.  The final will be televised on Thursday, May 31st on ESPN.

About the West Austin Chamber of Commerce:
The West Austin Chamber of Commerce exists to strengthen and improve the West Austin Chamber business community in order to promote the economic well-being of all citizens.  As part of this mission, we work to provide opportunities to educate and to advance the future generation of local business leaders.  The chamber is a member-driven non-profit organization and hosts a variety of member-focused and community events including the annual Summer Camp Fair and Health and Wellness Fair.

About the Scripps National Spelling Bee:
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives.