Written by Naina Mahajan, a grade 6 student.
“Words have magical powers. They can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair,” said Sigmund Freud famously
In this instance, it brought a great deal of happiness.
During the Scripps National Spelling Bee of 2021, Zaila Avant-Garde, a 14-year-old from New Orleans, made history. She was the second African-American girl ever to win. The first, Jody-Anne Maxwell, won in 1998, at the age of 12.
For a long time now, the Spelling Bee winners have mostly been of Indian descent. Zaila Avant-Garde was the first African-American to win in 23 years‼
What is the Scripps National Spelling Bee?
The Scripps National Spelling Bee, more commonly known as the National Spelling Bee, is a national spelling bee that’s held every year in the United States. It started back in 1925.
Last year, it was cancelled for the first time since World War II, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They did, however, host it again this year.
So, the most important question – Who Won?
The winner of this year’s spelling bee, Zaila Avant-Garde, correctly spelled the word ‘Murraya,’ meaning a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals.
Zaila Avant-Garde asked if ‘Murraya’ had the name of the famous comedian in it, to which the judges said, ‘Bill Murray has made his way into the Spelling Bee’.
The first prize comes with a $50,000 cash prize
Apart from winning this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, Zaila Avant-Garde also holds three different Guinness World Records, all for dribbling in basketball. She dreams of becoming a professional basketball player – to her, spelling is just a side hobby, which comes as a bit of a surprise, given the fact that she practises for up to seven hours a day. She tries to fit in 13,000 words per day.
Did you know: For 12 straight years, Indian-American kids have been winning the Spelling Bee? In fact, Indian-American kids have been dominating the Spee bee for the last 20 years.
This year too, of the 11 finalists nine were Indian-American. In the final round. Chaitra Thummala, a 12-year-old from San Francisco, and Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York won second and third place.