How do a set of twins excel at the Lincoln Public Schools spelling bee three years in a row?
They spend time with piles of dictionaries at home, says Bhuvana Gopal, mother of Lux Middle School seventh-graders Sankar and Eswar Ramamurthy, both finalists at the LPS Spelling Bee for the third time Saturday.
“We have so many (dictionaries),” Gopal said. “I think we might need to start donating.”
Thirteen-year-old Sankar placed third in 2016, second in 2017, and Saturday at the Culler Middle School auditorium, he took the top prize.
Sankar went word-for-word with his brother Eswar, as they competed against each other all the way to the final round.
Sankar stood in front of the microphone, gazing at his parents in the audience for reassurance, as he spelled the winning word “moxibustion.”
Eswar had won the event the past two years.
Congrats to Lux 7th grader Sankar Ramamurthy for winning this year's LPS Spelling Bee! He bested two year champion, his twin brother Eswar, by spelling moxibustion. pic.twitter.com/TVcxEHuaOv— Lincoln Pub. Schools (@LPSorg) February 10, 2018
The twins say the spelling bee is a family tradition.
“It’s the best way to show off how much we have prepared,” Eswar said
Melinda Murphy, secondary English language arts curriculum specialist for LPS, said 94 students registered, but only 47 showed up Saturday, likely because of the weather.
"We are thankful for those who showed up," Murphy said. "It shows dedication."
Sponsored by the Lincoln Journal Star, the spelling bee is open to fifth- through eighth-graders in LPS.
By the fifth round, only five students remained. Murphy said the competition was tough this year.
“The words were tougher than last year’s,” she said. “Students got knocked out in earlier rounds.”
Although the competition was tough, Murphy said it was no surprise to see the two brothers standing together in the end.
“They work really hard,” Murphy said. “They have a very supportive family, which helps.”
Gopal said that her sons prepare for each year’s spelling bee using the Scripps National Spelling Bee website, called Word Club.
“Grandpa quizzes them, too,” Gopal said. “It’s become a family thing that we all have fun with.”
Gopal says that she's proud of her sons, but she's more happy with the support they receive from other people.
“They play Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the guitar,” Gopal said. “Their instructors and teammates will be proud.”
Sankar and Eswar credited their victory to their English teachers.
"They're the reason we love words," Sankar said.
The fruits of their labor? Sankar took home the $100 prize and Eswar received $50.
“We’re big savers,” Eswar said. “It’s going in the bank.”
And, yes, both got new dictionaries.
The twins said they plan to participate in next year’s spelling bee before they start high school.
“You will definitely see us here next year,” Sankar said. “It’s a tradition."