Minerva Brown wins WJHS’s 2023 Spelling Bee

Wells Junior High School 8th-grade student Minerva Brown emerged as the top speller in this year’s Wells Junior High School Spelling Bee.    Another eighth grader, Saoirse Carrigan, was runner-up. 

Earlier, students from 5th through the 8th grade competed in their English Language Arts classroom spelling bees to become one of 11 finalists that competed in the school-wide contest on January 12th.  This event took place before a large audience of hundreds of students, school staff, and parents in the Ward Gymnasium.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event was noteworthy in that it was the first spelling bee to be held in the school’s gym since January 2019.

“This year's spellers were extraordinary, both in their spelling ability and poise and composure they showed under pressure,” commented English teacher and Bee pronouncer Julie Esch later in an email.  “(However) I thought the final few spellers were going to continue to spell correctly forever.”  Esch acknowledged that in the final rounds with just two spellers remaining she become worried that the contest was going to run out of words!  However, that didn’t happen when Minerva Brown stepped forward to spell the last word presented correctly. 

This contest is the first step in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.   It was organized by the WJHS English Language Arts team, Principal Josh Gould, Assistant Principal Donald Abbott, and custodial staff led by Mike Provencher.   Judges included school staff Lainey Yeomelakis, Mary Rand, Cheryl Turner, and Julie Howell.  “In short, it was a team effort that really helped everything come together for the kids,” commented Esch.   

Minerva Brown and Saoirse Carrigan will now attend the York County Spelling Bee which will take place February 7th at 3:00 pm in the library of Massabesic Middle School.   The winner of that contest will move on to compete in the Maine State Spelling Bee.  The culmination of all this will be at the national level at the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee in late May at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Visit spellingbee.com for a full competition schedule.

The winner and runner-up in the 2023 WJHS Spelling Bee.  Holding certificates are (at left) Minerva Brown with Saoirse Carrigan

Left to right: Finalists in the WJHS Spelling Bee, Yuki Fernandez, Caleb Hinkel, Liam Burke, Deanna Ferris, Isla Collins, Minerva Brown, Emily Finch, Saoirse Carrigan, Kylie Afthim, Ziggy Brown, and Carmen Puliafico