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Zaila Avant-Garde, 13, Wins National Online Spelling Bee

[Photo: Zaila Avant-Garde via Instagram | @basketballasart)]

According to, 13 year-old Zaila Avant-Garde, a 7th grader from Harvey, LA, beat out 88 of the best young spellers in the country to win the first-ever Kaplan Online Spelling Bee, hosted in association with Hexco Academic.

Garde, who was the 2019 New Orleans regional spelling champion, won with the word “Qashqai” (definition: a migratory Turkic-speaking people of the Zagros mountains), after a hard-fought back-and-forth with runner-up Harini Logan, a 6th grader from San Antonio, TX. Chaitra Thummala, a 5th grader from San Ramon, CA, placed third.

“There were so many great spellers in the bee,” Avant-Garde said. “To be able to compete against so many of the top spellers in the country was definitely a great experience. Even If I hadn’t won I would have been super proud of myself just for making it to the finals.”

As she took the top prize, Avant-Garde expressed that she was “kind of confused for a second — I guess because I was a little shocked that I’d won. After that, I just felt a great sense of relief knowing that all of my hard work had led to the best possible outcome.”

To quote from the article:

That hard work included “a minimum of about 5 or 6 hours a day to study despite having a bunch of other stuff to do,” Zaila said. “I’d study wherever and whenever I could — whether it was while I was eating breakfast, riding in the car, or even while I was on a short break during basketball practice. But mostly I’d just sit at my desk — turn on a podcast, an old-time radio show, or some music — and study words as fast and as carefully as I could via the help of many different spelling resources.”

Not only is the newly crowned spelling champion a wiz with words — she’s a wiz on the basketball court as well. Zaila holds the Guinness World Record title for “the most bounce juggles in one minute,” which earned her a performance with the legendary Harlem Globetrotters and a cameo in a Steph Curry Under Armour commercial. An avid reader whose heroes include Malala Yousafzai, Serena Williams and Coco Gauff, Zaila hopes to become an archaeologist one day and also aspires to play in the WNBA.

With the win, Zaila takes home $10,000 and a championship trophy. Harini earns $4,000; Chaitra wins $1,500. All three win free enrollments in Kaplan pre-college test prep courses as well.

This was the first year of the Kaplan Online Spelling Bee, hosted in association with Hexco Academic, to provide an opportunity for the nation’s top spellers to compete online after the Scripps National Spelling Bee was cancelled due to COVID-19.

To read more:

Original article source: | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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