For the second year running, Anika Gundlapalli is heading back to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

The bee is scheduled for May 29-31. Gundlapalli, a reserved 11-year-old sixth-grader at Nimitz Middle School, was excited and happy to be making a return trip.

Her winning word at the regional spelling bee in March was valves.

“I was happy,” she said.

Since then, she has been studying using the round 2 study guide and using online resources. Gundlapalli said she doesn’t expect it to be easier this year.

She said she tries to study every day for 30 minutes.

The National Spelling Bee website shows the competition starts with more than 500 spellers.

Dr. Sai Gundlapalli, Anika’s father, said the whole family went to Washington with Anika last time and plans to go again. They went sightseeing last year and Anika’s favorite spot was Mount Vernon.

“She worked very hard, so she made it she was really focused. She wanted it and so she worked hard,” he said.

Anika said she just likes to learn new words and plans to study up to the last minute.

Like her parents, Anika said she wants to be a doctor when she gets older.

Sai Gundlapalli said it’s beneficial to be a good speller.

“She reads book to learn more about spelling, plus you learn about language origins, things like that and the meanings of the words which will help her improve her vocabulary and writing skills which is an integral part of anything you do and it always has been,” Sai Gundlapalli said.

He added that preparing for the bee helps with goal setting, although Anika is self-motivated.

“She set the goal for herself. We just give her the resources. Sometimes she wants us to ask her some words and we ask her those words,” he said.

Sai Gundlapalli and his wife, Dr. Meghana, also have a son, Ajay, who is 8 and attends St. John’s Episcopal School.