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Ridge Park Student Headed to Scripps National Spelling Bee

One Canton Charter Academy fifth grader and one Ridge Park Charter Academy eighth grader have earned a trip to Washington, D.C. for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: To compete in this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Ridge Park Charter Academy’s Josh Diocares
Ridge Park eighth grader Josh Diocares is very excited to make a return trip to Washington, D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but he’s also on a two-part mission.
The first part of the mission is complete: to avenge his loss in last year’s regional competition. The second part is to use the experience and information he’s gathered to finish in a higher place than he did when he competed at nationals in sixth grade.
“I feel pretty glad to be able to go to the nationals again,” Diocares said. “I made a lot of nostalgic memories when I first went in sixth grade, so I’m excited to revisit those memories. It’s also my last year, and I lost the regionals last year, so I was really happy to win it this year.”

Josh D., spelling bee winner at Ridge Park Charter Academy.
Josh Diocares, an eighth-grade student at Ridge Park, is excited to head to Washington, D.C., for his second Scripps Spelling Bee in three years.

He has also gained the confidence to ask more questions than he did in the past. It’s that type of growth in spirit and character which proves why Ridge Park has outperformed the local district for the past 14 years.
“I was a bit shy to ask for things like etymology the previous time I went, but now I can use that information to my advantage. It’s good to study every aspect of the word to get all the information that you can.”
Diocares said he usually studies for competition on his computer and will have the dictionary on one side of the screen, and the other side he’ll have the list of words, an encyclopedia, and an image search so he can get a good idea what the word looks like.
When not studying for spelling competitions, Diocares enjoys playing video games and playing and composing his own music on guitar, piano, and violin.
Diocares said he studies daily for two to three hours and is level-headed about his opportunities and chances.
“I hope to have learned from the mistakes I’ve made at previous competitions.”
Good luck in the competition, Josh!

Canton Charter Academy’s Divya Choudhary
Divya Choudhary was named the WXYZ Spelling Bee champion, earning a spot in the national competition. The Detroit ABC affiliate surprised Choudhary with an announcement in front of her mother Lalita Mishra, sister Pragya, and her teachers.

Divya C. with Canton Charter Principal Ms. Conley.
Choudhary and Canton Principal Jennifer Conley pose after Choudhary won the school’s spelling bee competition.

When Choudhary learned the news, she was buzzing with excitement. She jumped out of her chair with joy, and when asked if she would like to go to Washington, D.C, her determination shined bright.
“I would love to,” Choudhary said in an interview with WXYZ. “But I’m going to need to work hard.”
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is not unfamiliar territory for the Choudhary family. Divya’s older sister Pragya qualified for the competition back in 2018.
 Divya C. with her sister and mother.
Choudhary (left) comes from a family of spellers. Her sister Pragya (right) competed in the national spelling bee in 2018, and both have a stellar coach in their mother Lalita Mishra (middle).

Mishra has many roles, including serving as Canton’s admissions representative. Spelling coach was already on Mishra’s docket, and now that role is going to expand in preparation for the national contest. Mishra said Choudhary plans to study 200-250 words per day and spend up to 18 hours per week preparing.
The school, which has outperformed the local district since it opened before the 2007-08 school year, is proud of their spelling champion and will be rooting her on this May.
“She’s my baby,” Mishra said. “I love it, and everybody at the school loves it. We’ve been with Canton since 2009, so it has been a second home for her. She loves being at Canton Charter Academy, and we love all of the support they give us.”

Divya C., spelling bee winner at Canton Charter Academy.
Divya Choudhary, a fifth-grader at Canton Charter Academy, is set to take on the Scripps National Spelling Bee next month.

Good luck, Divya, and way to represent Canton Charter Academy!
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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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