A Flurry of Final Local Bees in February

It is Final Local Bee season across the country as spellers put their preparation to the test by competing against other school spelling bee winners. The Scripps National Spelling Bee estimates 11 million students participate in our program. They represent more than 25,000 enrolled schools in every state in the U.S., several U.S. territories and a number of other countries. Winners of these regional events will advance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this May 26-28 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. 


Each week, we will recap some of the final local spelling bees. In this blog post, we’re checking in on spelling bees in North Carolina, Florida, New York and Colorado. 



In Charlotte, North Carolina, 10-year-old Grisham Paimagam was not addlepated when he correctly spelled his winning word, “addlepated.” It means mixed up or confused. Grisham, a fifth grader from Barringer Academic Center, was neither as he confidently spelled to win the Charlotte Observer Spelling Bee. It was a competitive battle that lasted 50 rounds. 


Spelling is an important subject for his family. His sister, Aksha, won the same regional contest twice, in 2016 and 2017, and advanced to compete in the national finals. Their mother helps Grisham with his spelling studies. Grisham said he really enjoys learning about roots and the etymology of the words. 



In Jacksonville, Florida, a familiar name returned to the First Coast Spelling Bee to defend his 2019 title. Erik Williams, a seventh grader from St. Johns Country Day, did not disappoint as he won by correctly spelling “allergenic.” 


The final local spelling bee for northeastern Florida is sponsored by WJXT. The television station celebrated all 14 of the students competing by featuring each one in the morning newscast during the week leading up to the bee. 


Erik is excited to return to the national finals and thanked his family for their help. “It’s an incredible experience. They’re really supportive of me, and they helped me prepare for this,” Erik said.



In Dallas, North Carolina, the winner of The Shelby Star spelling bee, fourth grader Aaliyah Thompson, grinned widely as she raised her trophy high above her head to celebrate her accomplishment. She competed with 22 other students and won with her final two words, “scrooge” and “macular.” 


The Marion Elementary student made certain to hug her mother who supported her through much of her studies. “It feels great,” said Aaliyah after the bee. “I worked so hard for this. I’m proud of myself. I had to put in hours and boatloads of work.”


Her mother beamed with pride as well. “I think I was more nervous than she was,” Tonya Thompson said. “I’m so proud of her. She worked so hard, and I want her to know that when you work hard this is what you get.”



In Syracuse, New York, Emma Sroka, a sixth grader from William H. Seward Elementary, earned a repeat trip to the national finals when she won The Post-Standard WCNY Spelling Bee. In the 12th round, her winning word was “depilatory,” which is a cosmetic used for hair removal.  


Emma’s parents told the sponsoring newspaper that Emma’s success in spelling has inspired participation from her classmates. Read the full article to see some uncommon words that came up in the competition. 




In Boulder, Colorado, it was a tiebreaker test that determined who would advance to the national finals. After a lengthy day of oral spelling, Cameron Keith, an eighth grader from Southern Hills Middle School, won the competition and the expenses-paid trip to D.C. This will be Cameron’s fourth time competing in the national finals. 


In addition to getting 15 out of 20 correct on the written test, he also correctly spelled words like “macaque” and “attache.” He told the Daily Camera that he plans to give it his all as he studies from now until Bee Week May 24-29. 


Roy Holloway, the director of the Boulder Valley School District Bee and former speller, said the program is such a rewarding experience for students. 


“This is such a great opportunity for students to show their learning through their passion, through exploration,” Holloway said. “It’s great that students have an opportunity to share their knowledge. It shows perseverance and community.”