WASHINGTON — The Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland named a new winner on Thursday, June 1, 2023. Dev Shah, an 8th grade student from Largo, Florida, took home the trophy after correctly spelling psammophile in the 15th round of the competition.
What You Need To Know
- Kentucky had four students who represented the state at the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year.
- “My favorite part of the competition is really seeing all the kids come alive on stage,” said Spelling Bee Executive Director, Corrie Loeffler.
- In the competition’s nearly 100-year history, the state of Kentucky has had four national winners. In fact, the very first champion, Frank Neauhauser, represented Louisville in 1925.
The national contest brought students who range in age from 9 to 14 to the area to compete. Each student qualified through local spelling competitions.
“They’re all champions starting out in the preliminaries,” explained Scripps National Spelling Bee Executive Director Corrie Loeffler.
“My favorite part of the competition is really seeing all the kids come alive on stage,” Loeffler said. “Whether they spell correctly or misspell, they’ve had this life-changing experience of competing at the national level at such a young age and that really changes the way they see themselves and their possibilities for the future.”
Kentucky had four students competing this year including 14-year-old Noah Brumfield from Madisonville, 14-year-old Tara Rakesh from Union, 13-year-old Ian Gibson from Bowling Green, and 11-year-old Bella Carver from Hanson. Bella recalled the moment she qualified for the national competition.
“My smile was so wide,” Bella said. “I was shocked that I was actually going to the nationals.”
Bella said she was both “excited” and “nervous” when she stepped on to the national stage.
“More nervous though,” she explained. “Because I had heard some of the words they were giving kids.”
Bella’s parents sat in the audience and experienced those same emotions.
“It’s extremely nerve-wracking,” said Bella’s mom, Sharon Carver. “You’re so proud, but you’re just scared to death for them. And you obviously want them to win, you know, you want them to move on to the next round.”
Bella did advance out of the first round, correctly spelling quokka. Merriam-Webster defines quokka as “a stocky herbivorous marsupial of southwestern Australia that has a short tail.”
“I got a word that I actually knew about,” Bella said. “It’s super cute!”
The competition alternates between spelling and definition rounds. The definition of ingratiate meaning “to make agreeable with someone” knocked Bella out of the competition, but as one of the younger participants she has more years of eligibility and said she plans to qualify again next year.
“Yes, I want to come back,” Bella said eagerly. “If I keep studying, I think I’ll do a lot better next year.”
In the competition’s nearly 100-year history, the state of Kentucky has had four national winners. In fact, the very first champion, Frank Neauhauser, represented Louisville in 1925. Neauhauser won after correctly spelling gladiolus. The very next year’s winner, Pauline Bell, also represented Louisville and won with the word cerise. Kentucky had back-to-back winners again in 1937 and 1938.
There were nine participants in that first National Spelling Bee and it was sponsored by the Louisville Courier-Journal. This year’s bee had 229 qualifiers.