Sibling Rivalry: Two Brothers Win First and Second in County Spelling Bee

Imagine competing in a school spelling bee and the only person left to beat is your brother.

That is what happened when two Straughn School students competed in the Covington County Spelling Bee last week.

The Patel brothers are known for winning spelling bees.

“I started in kindergarten,” 8th grader Taj Patel says. “I had my first school spelling bee and well, I saw Scripp’s National Spelling Bee on tv the summer before and it had seemed really interesting to me.”

Patel has won Straughn School’s Spelling Bee 8 years in a row.

“I think just spelling itself and the vocabulary as well, because its really enhanced my vocabulary skills and my essay writing and just things, its really helped my everyday language as well,” Taj says.

Now, his little brother Dhilan is now following in his brother’s footsteps. A third grader at Straight, Dhilan won  the elementary spelling bee for the second consecutive year.

Both were awarded with a showdown, competing against other county students last week.

They were the final two left standing.

“For me, it was really like, when are we going to get over this because I’d spell a word and I’d ask four or five questions just to double make sure,” Taj says. “He’d just spell a word and he’d be like “cat, c-a-t” and be done. and I’d be like ‘give me a break.’”

The younger brother didn’t like competing against the elder, however.  When asked why, he had one simple answer.

“Because I didn’t win,” Dhilan says.

Older brother Taj did win- this year. But Dhilan says he’s looking forward to next year.
“He won’t be there next year so that is what I like,” Dhilan says.

Teachers say both students are motivated to win.

“Well, we go over the syllables a lot and most of the time during spelling they like break it into syllables that helps them remember the different words and how to spell them,” Dhilan’s reading teacher Leah Grimes says.

“He doesn’t do the bare minimum,” 8th grade Social Studies teacher Marshall McGlaun says. “He always goes above and beyond. And that’s just a breath of fresh air”

Taj will now compete in the the Alabama State Spelling Bee. It is scheduled for March 9th in Alabaster. Dhilan will go as an alternate.

Categories: News, South Alabama