A crowd of family members, teachers, and friends were on hand to congratulate 21 Boston youth from across the City competing in Boston’s eleventh annual BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. 

The winner of this year’s Bee was Nicla Mirabito age 12 from the North End’s Eliot K-8 School who won by spelling “Huckaback” correctly.  The second place finisher was Sulayman Abdirahman age 9 from Roxbury and coming in third was Mira Yu age 13 from the North End, an Eliot alumnus and currently at Boston Latin School. The Bee went 33 rounds plus one final round before the Championship Round.

Organized by Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) and sponsored by the Boston Bruins Foundation, the winner now goes on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

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Nicla from the Eliot K-8 School (pictured above) spelling during the opening round of the BCYF Spelling Bee.

“We are very proud to be hosting the BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee for the twelfth year,” said William Morales, Commissioner of BCYF.  “The competition is fierce and the young spellers are truly inspiring. Thank you to our longtime sponsor, the Boston Bruins Foundation, for supporting the BCYF Bee each year and giving us a chance to show off Boston’s talented youth.”

The 2019 winning word was “Huckaback”. Winning words in previous years are shown above.

Over 3000 young people participated in Boston public and parochial school Bees to qualify for the BCYF Citywide Bee.  The preparation for the school Bees helps young people improve their spelling, broaden their vocabulary and build self-confidence.

“The BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their academic excellence and is a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Marty Martinez, Boston’s Chief of Health & Human Services. “Participation in this spelling bee is not just an individual achievement, but it’s also a communal achievement by each student and all of the people at their side. We are proud of the work that went into each student’s presence.”

(Right to left) Nicla Marabito, North End (1st Place), Sulayman Abdirahman, Roxbury (2nd Place) and Mira Yu, North End (3rd Place)

Commissioner Morales opened the speaking program and welcomed the spellers and their families and presented each speller with a participation medal.  Chief Martinez shared greetings and congratulations from Mayor Walsh. The judges this year were Dhruti Bhagat, Web Services Library, Boston Public Library; Roxanne Longoria, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships, City of Boston Health & Human Services Cabinet; and Ann Siegel, Director of BCYF Roslindale Community Center.  It was an exciting, suspenseful event with cheers (and some tears) from the audience and participants.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running spelling bee.  School children from all over the country meet in Washington D.C. every May to compete in the National Bee.  The one and only winner from Massachusetts was in 1939. In addition to an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Bee, the BCYF Spelling Bee winner received the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online Premium, and a trophy.  Second place and third place finishers received an Amazon Fire 7 Tablet, $25.00 Amazon Gift Card, and trophies.

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