Connecticut Spelling Bee 2017

Arin Bhandari, Sixth Grader from West Haven, Wins The Connecticut Spelling Bee

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society proudly co-presented a state-wide spelling bee with the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper, the Hartford Courant. Hosted by the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford on Saturday, March 25, 2017, “The Connecticut Spelling Bee” included students from all over the state.

The Connecticut Spelling Bee was the last step on the path to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Arin Bhandari, overall winner of the state competition, will represent Connecticut on the national stage in Washington, D.C. This year’s competition included 35 students from 25 towns across the state. Participating students in grades 4 through 8 had already won their school- or town-wide spelling bees.

The 2017 Connecticut Spelling Bee contestants were Sonia Berliner of Clinton, Juliet McShane of Andover, Mischa Chanla of Bridgeport, Madeline Gamester of West Hartford, Jaden McFarlane of Bloomfield, Raul Aguillon of Bridgeport, Anupriya Lulla of Stamford, Sophia Ruser of Guilford, Erin Prouty of Niantic, Sabrina Moffa of Watertown, Adam Allegro of Greenwich, Dev Patel of West Haven, Juliet Lam of Easton, Marissa Garcia of Bridgeport, Shakshi Patel of East Haven, Anthony Heller of West Hartford, Natilie Mikhaeel of Bridgeport, Gianna Gassira of North Branford, Audrey Lin of Old Greenwich, Luis Alexander Valbuena of Bridgeport, Tyrell Jones of Danbury, Emma Boudreaux of Pawcatuck, Lindy Quach of West Hartford, Roberta Ragosta of Sherman, Sullivan Quirk of Somers, Alexandra Ilardi of Danbury, Avila Ang of Stamford, Samantha Hass of Winsted, Zachary Williamson of Wilton, Cierro O’Sullivan of Thomaston, Madeleine Brouillard of Vernon, Myan Nguyen of Westbrook, Isha Patel of Danbury, and Zaen Quaisar of Brookfield.

Dr. William Dolan, a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, San Diego, and former Scripps National Spelling Bee competitor served as the Spelling Bee Pronouncer. The judging panel included Mr. Andrew Julien, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Hartford Courant Media Group; Dr. Catherine Kurkjian, professor in the Department of Literacy, Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Central Connecticut State University; and Dr. Mark Zelinsky, Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English at the University of St. Joseph.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was founded on the principles of celebrating words and inspiring new generations of readers. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary serves as the final authority for the Scripps National Spelling Bee and its affiliates. The dictionary is a living document with new words being added annually to reflect our ever-changing language. Spellers engaging in the spelling bee tradition are intimately familiar with both etymology and current language trends.

Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is the original source for today’s Merriam-Webster Dictionary. As the caretakers of Webster’s National Historic Landmark birthplace, the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society was a natural fit to take over the management of a state-wide spelling bee. “As the birthplace of founding father and lexicographer Noah Webster, it was not only apropos but our privilege to co-sponsor The Connecticut Spelling Bee with the Hartford Courant,” said Executive Director Jennifer DiCola Matos. “We were so impressed by the poise and knowledge of the competing students. They can all be proud of this great achievement!”

The spelling bee lasted sixteen rounds over four hours. Four of the sixteen rounds were deadlocked; no eliminations were made, and it was clear each student had studied with fervor. Bhandari’s winning word, “onus,” was from the list of unstudied words, and was one of only two words he did not ask for the language of origin, definition, and use in a sentence. His correctly spelled words leading up to the final round included “mosque,” “coyote,” “clapboard,” “mootable,” “diesel,” “macadamia,” “duenna,” “samurai,” “kohlrabi,” “indigenous,” “coloratura,” “minatory,” “Skookum,” and “gauss.” Bhandari celebrated his win by taking a paltry three days off from studying for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Support Connecticut’s champion by watching him compete on ESPN during Bee Week, May 28 through June 3, 2017.

In addition to the Hartford Courant and the University of Saint Joseph, the museum would like to thank the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Greater Hartford Arts Council for their continued support.


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