SOUTH FORSYTH — Forsyth County has a new spelling bee champion.
After 15 rounds and about three hours of competition Monday, eighth-grader Sweta Munagapati of Piney Grove Middle School correctly spelled “byzantine” to take home the top prize in the Forsyth County Spelling Bee.
The first runner-up was Monish Jampala, a fifth-grader at Daves Creek Elementary.
Eighth-grader Akshat Gautam from South Forsyth Middle came in third, and Pravith Rathin, a fifth-grader from Big Creek Elementary, placed fourth.
According to Hannah Orr, communications and partnerships facilitator for the school system, students were judged by a three-person panel. It included: Greg Orr, an educator and vice president of the local chapter of the Georgia Association of Educators; Kathy Vail, a retired local educator and representative of the Forsyth County Retired Educators Association; and Evan Profeta, local State Farm Insurance Agency owner.
The evening was emceed by James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
The system-wide bee is part of the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee pathway. Students in fourth through eighth grades are eligible to compete.
School-level spelling bee winners competed for county honors at South Forsyth High School. The top three competitors will move on to represent Forsyth in the District 2 spelling bee, which is set for Feb. 27 at North Atlanta High School.
The fourth-place speller will serve as the district’s alternate. The district champion advances to the state spelling bee March 25.
In 2015, Vickery Creek Middle eighth-grader Varun Kumar placed third among 20 students at the 54th Annual Georgia Association of Educators Spelling Bee. He was the highest-placing public school student in the state last year.