The competition was stiff but fourth grader Zuri Hicks spelled “ligature” in the 21st round to emerge triumphant in this week’s annual Wyncote Spelling Bee, a precursor to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Hicks outlasted classmate Nate Leary to finish first. Both earned medals and certificates, with Hicks also receiving the book Akeelah and the Bee, a story about a girl who overcomes great obstacles to win her spelling bee. Along with Hicks and Leary, finalists included fourth graders Malachi Beck, Nayan Foxhall and Mia Haugen. Semifinalists include Eamon Ivory, Kathryn Jones, Rae-Jaun Buddington, Ava Moriconi, Elijah Belov, Jaylen Hill and Sam Thomas.
Hicks advances to compete in a preliminary written round (25 word written exam; vocabulary portion) on Thursday, Feb. 21 at Northampton Community College’s Lipkin Theatre. If Hicks does well enough in the preliminary round, she will compete in the regional finals on Wednesday, March 27. A tradition 90 years in the making, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is one of the nation’s oldest and most iconic competitions. Through the competition, students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.