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Ridge Park Student Wins Their Regional Spelling Bee, Going to Nationals

Canton Charter Academy eighth-grader Angelina Gampala and Ridge Park Charter Academy sixth-grader Josh Diocares won their respective regional spelling bees. Now they will go to the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. for Bee Week 2022 (May 29 – June 4).
Ridge Park Charter Academy sixth-grader Josh Diocares
Sixth-grader Josh Diocares recently won the Grand Rapids regional spelling bee. He out-spelled 18 other students to earn his way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee over the Memorial Day break.
Josh, mom Charmaine, dad Fedelino, and his big brother will all attend the competition. Diocares won the school spelling bee, then had to complete a challenge online to determine if he would be going to the Greater Grand Rapids spelling bee. He was selected.
 Josh Diocares wins first place in spelling bee.

The word he spelled correctly was “emancipatory,” making him the regional winner. Competitors can ask for the meaning of a word if they need it.
“I study a lot and usually find the spelling bee is easier, but the one for Grand Rapids was pretty hard,” said Diocares. “My plans for spring break are to study for the national spelling bee.”
Diocares’ Ridge Park Sixth Grade Teacher James Wagner explained that each grade spends time throughout the year working on the standards students need to learn. Pending grade level expectations, certain activities, units, and lessons have new words that students are continuously learning throughout the year. As they get older novel studies/reading logs are a part of this program as well.
“We also give students grade-appropriate spelling bee packets to study ahead of time,” said Wagner. “We then have grade level and school-wide competitions as directed by the program rules and procedures.”
Diocares’ dad and mom are pretty proud.
 Josh Diocares with his family.
“Josh is an excellent student. He knows multiple languages, English, Russian, Japanese, Hebrew and more. He is a sixth grader taking eighth-grade math. He’s a musician with perfect pitch. He plays piano, violin, clarinet and is learning bass guitar,” dad said.
Diocares says he’s interested in being a programmer and a musician.
“I didn’t use to read very much before getting ready for the Spelling Bee but have been reading more now and I found out that I really enjoy reading!”
Wagner says, “Josh is a fantastic student that has always gone above and beyond for years. He currently is being challenged with eighth grade and high school level math programs due to his level of proficiency. Josh’s NHA math scores speak for themselves (not too many adults could score what he does on the NWEA).
“Josh has incredible study habits, is extremely polite, kind, and courteous. He is a great leader and willing to help others. Josh loves a good challenge and is typically always willing to accept it and do his best solving it.”
Canton Charter Academy eighth-grader Angelina Gampala
This is the second year for eighth-grader Angelina Gampala to participate in the national spelling bee. Last year due to COVID-19, the national competition was virtual. This year, Gampala and her mother Manu will go to the competition representing Canton Charter Academy in-person.
The regional competition was virtual for Gampala. She had 25 spelling words and 25 vocabulary words. For the vocabulary word, the student is given multiple choice definitions for a word and chooses the correct answer. Gampala got a perfect score on both sections.
 Angelina Gampala holding trophy.

Gampala prepares for her spelling bees by getting the word list. Then she sits down and looks through the definitions and origins of the words. She studies an hour or two a night to prepare. “I'm very excited because there’s so many events planned in D.C.”
“Angelina is a good student. She motivates herself and finishes all her work on time. I don’t need to remind her. Overall, she’s a well-rounded student. We’re excited and very proud,” Gampala’s mom said.
“She is a stellar student and always turns in her very best work. She made it to the national competition last year as well. Angelina is proof that when you work hard and put forth your best effort, you can achieve anything,” said Page Shriver, Gampala’s English language arts teacher.
When asked about her career path, Gampala’s answer is quick. “I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. I really enjoy science and human body science also. My brother is going to be a doctor too!”
 Angelina Gampala holding.

Gampala’s brother is actually a few years ahead of her. He is graduating from Michigan State University (MSU) this spring and is currently deciding between medical school at MSU or University of Michigan.
Besides being a good student, Gampala has other interests too. She plays tennis and loves to ride her bike. She also plays the saxophone at school and piano with a band at her church.
Good luck to both our NHA competitors! The finals will be broadcast on ION on June 2. LeVar Burton, accomplished actor, director, educator, and lifelong children’s literacy advocate is the host.

About Ridge Park Charter Academy
Ridge Park Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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