Winners of an earlier Los Angeles County Elementary Spelling Bee. Courtesy LA County Office of Education

For the second year in a row, the same Corona-Norco Unified School District student claimed the championship title in the Riverside County Spelling Bee, correctly spelling out the name of a cloud Wednesday and earning a place in the national competition.

Lara Randhawa, an eighth-grader from Auburndale Intermediate School, gave the correct answer to the spelling of “cumulocirrus” at the end of the 2022 virtual competition.

Lara, whose family has formed a quasi-dynasty on the academic stage in Riverside County thanks to multiple wins by her sister in spelling bees during the previous decade, said she appreciates word knowledge for how it factors into “various aspects of life.”

“The definitions can help you with vocabulary and writing, and with how eloquently you speak,” she said. “Studying the roots helps you piece together words to find out definitions of words you don’t know.”

Lara also took top honors in the county’s 2021 virtual bee. Her sister, Aisha Randhawa, laid the groundwork for her younger sibling’s success, winning local championship titles in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, paving the way for her to compete nationally in each of those years.

“The most exciting part of going to the National Spelling Bee is being able to represent the people who have helped me — my parents, my classmates, my dad and my sister have all helped me,” Lara said.

Her two nearest competitors — sixth-grader Faith Zabata from Palm View Elementary School in the Coachella Valley Unified School District, and seventh-grader John Folsom from Van Avery Preparatory School — tied for second place.

Faith was knocked out of the running for the championship title when she misspelled “schizophrenia,” and John was displaced when he misspelled “vespacide.”

However, both youths will be joining Lara to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee slated for Memorial Day weekend at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, according to the county Office of Education.

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