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TRIBUNE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Natalie Cha of Three Rivers Charter School is the winner of the Regional Spelling Bee held at the Hollywood Theater, Saturday, March 7. Cha stands with Rebecca Brown of Comcast, left, and Mark Garber, president of Portland Tribune and Community Newspapers. Cha will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.Natalie Cha from Three Rivers Charter School in West Linn correctly spelled “geniculate” to win the 2015 Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee Saturday in Portland.


Cha, 12, defeated 50 other spelling champions to win the contest. She heads to Washington, D.C., in May for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Cha triumphed after 14 nail-biting rounds of increasingly difficult words. The runner up, Vipanchi Mungara, tripped up on the word winze, which is a vertical or deeply inclined opening connecting parts of a mine. Mungara is an 11-year-old from Carden Cascade Academy in Hillsboro.

Cha’s secret to her spelling super power? “She reads a lot,” said her proud mother Stephanie. “We read her the ‘Your Baby Can Read’ books starting at about six months, and by two years she was recognizing words.”

Cha repeatedly asked for the origin of her assigned spelling words. “The language of origin helps a lot,” she said.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Natalie Cha, 12, of Three Rivers Charter School in West Linn, will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.The spelling champ is looking forward to her all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., in May to the Scripps National Bee. Cha, who has never been to Washington, D.C., is most excited about the actual spelling bee, rather the sights. “That’ll be super-cool,” she said.

Many of the spellers were eliminated early in the bee, which lasted nearly two hours. The first round saw seven fall and in the second round, another 11 were eliminated.

By the end of round six, only four girls and one boy were left to spell.

Two-time winner Divya Amirtharaj, 13, from Meadow Park Middle School, Beaverton, was stumped this year in round nine by the word orrery.

Manasi Sridhar, 14, from Hazlebrook Middle School, got tripped up on the word assassinate. Luc Ta, 12, from Thomas Fowler Middle School, was knocked out by Muzak.

At the beginning of round 10, just Cha and Mungara were left. They spelled a string of words, including effete, Appolo and nonuple. To win, the final speller must spell two words in a row correctly.

Cha had an impressive cheering section. Both sets of Cha’s grandparents from California and the other from Michigan were there to watch her victory.

Cha’s advice for improving your spelling? “Read a lot. It is a fun way to learn new words,” she said.