Louisiana native crowned Scripps Spelling Bee champion in historic fashion

U.S. & World

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from Harvey, Louisiana reacts after correctly spelling a word during the finals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee at Disney World Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

HARVEY, La. — A Harvey teenager spells her way to victory as she is crowned the the winner of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

On Thursday night, Zaila Avant-garde was all smiles as she became the victor of the competition, winning with the word “murraya (a small citrus shrub native to regions in South Asia and Australia). She was one of 209 competitors.

Avant-garde’s win is also historic as she is the first Black student to win the competition, along with the first person from Louisiana and first home-schooled student.

She previously competed in the 2019 spelling bee and tied for 370th place, but came back following a year off due to the pandemic. This year, the spelling bee was held in Orlando, Florida.

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