Menomonee Falls 8th grader to compete in National Spelling Bee

MENOMONEE FALLS -- She’s an eighth grader at North Middle School, who takes violin classes and high school honors English and Math. After last weekend, Heloise Cheruvalath has some bragging rights as the champion of the state spelling bee.

The 13-year-old won the Badger State Spelling Bee in Madison last Saturday.  She'll go on to represent Wisconsin in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. later this spring.

Heloise beat out 48 other students to win the state title, with a word that means sweetly flowing and smooth. “I won on mellifluous.  I knew the word really well and I was happy, so I knew I was going to win. It's great.  I'm representing the state, the community, the school, myself, my family, everyone," Cheruvalath said.

“We're very proud of her, very strong academic child,” North Middle School’s Lynn Grimm said.

Cheruvalath will be up against 277 other spelling champs in the national competition.  She’s correctly spelled words like ‘decile,’ ‘opotheraphy,’ ‘dirigible,’ and ‘cryophilic.’  Just in case, Cheruvalath even knows the longest official word in the dictionary.

“Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,” she recited.  The 45-letter word simply means a lung disease.

Cheruvalath says her secret to spelling, however, is not memorizing the dictionary.  It’s learning word stems, prefixes and suffixes. “My strategy is studying like, the parts of the words,” Cheruvalath said.

“She's focusing on the Latin pieces, so I think that breaking down the different words and origins and roots,” Grimm said.

Cheruvalath will have two months to prepare for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held May 27 to June 1.

Both of Cheruvalath's parents are scientists in Menomonee Falls.