Plano ISD Student Wins Dallas Sports Commission Spelling Bee

Dhroov Bharatia felt anxious as he finished the Dallas Sports Commission’s 63rd annual Dallas Regional Spelling Bee. A seventh grader at Wilson Middle School, he’s been competing in spelling bees since he was in fourth grade, but this year was different — and harder — because the contest was held online due to COVID-19. There was no speaking portion. It was all written. After making a few educated guesses on some words he felt unsure of, he was done. 

And the end result was enough to make Dhroov break out into some of his favorite dance moves — he scored a 50/50 on the spelling bee test. He won with a perfect score.

But Veeral Bharatia, Dhroov’s dad, said Dhroov bringing home the “W” was not surprising. 

Bharatia credits Dhroov’s spelling skills to the fact that he is “a voracious reader,” who reads very fast and understands words quickly. He was able to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in under five hours. For reference, the book is about 600 pages. 

He is also interested in learning about the origins and history of words, which he uses to his advantage in spelling bees, Bharatia said. Dhroov and his brother, Harshal, often use their free time to learn. 

“They just really channel their energy into exploring new things,” Bharatia said. “They spend long hours learning about literature, history, science, math, and music – I have to remind them they have to sleep.”

But Bharatia is most proud of the person his son is — not just his incredible spelling skills.

“I am very proud of his success,” Bharatia said. “One thing I am most proud of is that he has a very caring personality. He wants to find ways to make things better for others – whether it’s a friend or a stranger.”

The Remote Spelling Bee

DSC’s spelling bee was held on Friday, March 12, according to a press release. The spelling bee used Scripps’ Online Testing Platform, which allows coordinators to administer spelling bees virtually, according to OTP’s website

The test had contestants type words and answer vocabulary questions from computers at their classrooms or homes while being proctored via webcam. Those who qualified for the spelling bee were in eighth grade or lower and won their specific school’s and local county’s spelling bees.

The 2021 spelling bee hosted 26 contestants from 16 counties, chosen out of 70,000 students from over 600 schools competing in spelling bees throughout north and east Texas. Those students represented 16 counties — Anderson, Bowie, Cherokee, Collin, Dallas Public, Dallas Private, Denton, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Gregg, Henderson, Kaufman, Lamar, Navarro and Rockwell, according to Lori Hamamoto of Tony Fay Public Relations.

Dhroov took first place, followed by second place winner Karishma Pilla, an eighth grader at Perry Middle School in Carrollton. She scored a 49/50.

What’s Next?

The spelling bee is far from over — it’s time for Dhroov to keep hitting the books.

Dhroov and Pilla will now advance to an online preliminary stage of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June, followed by a virtual quarterfinal and semifinal before the in-person final on July 8. 

There will be about 10-12 finalists from across the country who will travel to Scripps’ in-person final at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. If a Dallas-area winner advances to the final stage, they will get an all-expense-paid trip to Florida. 

“We congratulate Dhroov and Karishma on their impressive accomplishments in the regional competition and wish them all the best as they represent Dallas at the Scripps National Spelling Bee,” Monica Paul, Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director, said in the release.