A Brandon Elementary fourth-grader spelled her way to success in the individual competition at the Kiwanis Scripps District Spelling Bee Saturday at Lufkin High School.

Competing against 11 other students in grades up to eighth, Aanvi Manda correctly spelled the word ‘’agitated’’ and earned first place and a dictionary about as big as her.

The only thing bigger was her smile.

“I won,” she said in amazement, as she slowly walked out of the spelling room.

“I won.”

This win allows Aanvi to advance to compete at the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee in Houston on March 23.

“I’m so excited to win but I’m nervous to go to finals,” Aanvi said. This is all new to her because this is her first time to win.

Her spelling coach Sydney White gave her a pat on the back and said they have a plan to practice a lot.

“She studies so hard on her own and is so smart,” White said. “She deserves this.”

Aanvi said she studies the Scripps National Spelling Bee list, which contains hundreds of words, at least an hour every day. She said she plans to study hard from now until competition and do her best.

The bee, which covers Angelina, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine and Houston counties, had about 75 children participate. There were 12 individual spellers along with 15 kindergarten through fifth-grade teams and seven sixth- through eighth-grade teams.

Regents Academy in Nacogdoches took first place in both the kindergarten through fifth grade and sixth- to eighth-grade team competitions.

Fifth-graders Jericho Maness, Armaan Rajani and Meena Shanmugam jumped for joy when they won. “This feels amazing!” Armaan exclaimed before punching his fist in the air and dancing in circles on his tiptoes. “This is the first time I won.”

The group said they felt like all their hard work had paid off.

Meena, who is the team captain, thanked their spelling coach Nicole Alders for her support. “If not for our teacher, Mrs. Alders, we wouldn’t have done so well,” Meena said. “She really helped us practice a lot.”

Eighth-graders Joseph Pratt, Noah Satir and Ella Li won the sixth- through eighth-grade competition.

“It was really nerve-racking this time, but it’s so exciting to win,” team captain Noah said. They each have been competing in bees since they were really young. When asked for advice on how to succeed in spelling bee, Li said, “Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, like the pronunciation, definition and origin.”

Alders gave each kid a supportive hug.

“They are really special kids,” Alders said. “I’ve been working with some of them for eight years. They’ve really studied hard.”

Bee co-chair Carol Riggs said the Kiwanis Lufkin Chapter has been holding the bee for more than 60 years. Each year, the group tries to make the bee better and better.

“This year, it moved much more quickly and smoothly because we held the kindergarten through fifth-grade competition in one room and the fifth-through eighth-grade competition in another simultaneously,” co-chair Mike Miller said. “Congratulations to all the winners.”

Riggs and Miller thanked Lufkin High School for allowing the bee to take place on campus and the city of Lufkin, which filmed the event. Visit the city of Lufkin’s Facebook page to find out when the bee will air on KLTX Channel 15.

They also thanked AAA Trophy for providing trophies, which will be given to the first-and second-place teams and the individual winner on Wednesday during an awards ceremony at Crown Colony Country Club.

Stephanie Stevens’ email address is sstevens@lufkindailynews.com.