Valley Ridge sixth-grader wins district spelling bee


Deeksha Hariharan, a sixth-grade student at Valley Ridge Academy, won the annual St. Johns County School District Spelling Bee held Dec. 15 at First Coast Technical College. She won by spelling the word “Truckee” correctly.

Deeksha is the daughter of Palayapalayam Ganapathi Hariharan and Jarapriya Jayakumaran.

It took 14 rounds for the winner to be determined. The participants were congratulated by Michael Degutis, chief of staff, and School Board members Kelly Barrera and Beverly Slough.

Forty-eight elementary and middle school students from 32 public, four private and one home school competed for the honor of representing St. Johns County in the First Coast Regional Spelling Bee scheduled to be held virtually on April 1.

The winner of the regional spelling bee will advance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled for May in Washington, D.C.

Rebecca England, program specialist for elementary language arts, served as the spelling bee coordinator. The pronouncer was Linda Villadoniga, retired St. Johns County teacher. Judges for the event were Jay DiMartino, secondary language arts program specialist, and Cheryl Freeman, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

The Spelling Bee will be available for viewing at a later date on St. Johns Educational Access TV channels 99 or 262 and


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