2 local students heading to National Bee

Jaynard Quiray, 11, poses for a photo with his parents May 24. They are heading to Washington, D.C., for the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee. He will be attending STEM Academy next fall. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

Two local students are heading to the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee set for May 28-30 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Odessa’s Jaynard Quiray, 11, and Shreeya Sivakumar, 13, have been preparing hard for the event.

Quiray will be attending STEM Academy next fall and Sivakumar attends Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Quiray said going to Washington will be a good experience.

He has not been there before. Quiray is looking forward to meeting the spellers, pronouncer Jacques Bailly and also seeing the Lincoln Memorial.

He said he has been studying one to two hours a day, reading the unabridged dictionary. If he wants to see photos, he googles them.

Scripps also offers resources he can use. His parents, Bernard and Jaylyn, have also helped him.

They are excited and a little bit nervous for Jaynard.

Jaynard feels the same way — kind of “excited and nervous.”

He added that it will be a good experience to have other spellers to compete against him.

Jaylyn said it’s always been Jaynard’s dream to win the regional bee and go on to the national bee.

Jaynard said he got interested in spelling when they had a school spelling bee in first grade.

“When I started spelling, I thought I could get the hang of it and I did,” he said.

There are several activities taking place around the bee such as a Memorial Day picnic, games and chances to mingle.

Jaynard said he has gotten a lot of support from his parents and his coach, Rhonda Haley. He also wanted to give a shout-out to Odessa Christian School and Ector County ISD, which made the bee possible.

Shreeya Sivakumar, 13, poses for a photo. She attends Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Midland and is looking forward to taking the stage to spell. (Courtesy Photo)

Sivakumar previously went to the National Bee in fifth grade.

“I’ve been studying basic language patterns. I’ve been doing all the Scripps National Spelling Bee list and I’ve been studying root words,” Sivakumar said.

She’s been studying two to three hours during the week and four to six hours on weekends.

“I don’t think people realize that even though I study that much I still do have a little bit of free time,” Sivakumar said.

She will be traveling with her dad.

“I’m just excited to go back to Washington, D.C. I really like how it looks there and all the places to eat,” Sivakumar said.

She added that she’s looking forward to getting up on stage to spell.

“I’ve enjoyed learning about all the different things. I’ve learned about hard work. I’ve also learned a lot about different roots that will help me in my future,” Sivakumar said.

Her favorite subject in school is math and she’s interested in going into the medical field.

ION Plus is the streaming home for live coverage of every round of the bee, including the Preliminaries, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals. Coverage runs May 28-30. ION Plus is available on leading streaming platforms nationwide.