13-Year-Old Latina Wins First Ever National Spanish Spelling Bee

A middle-school student recently won the first national Spanish spelling bee, the Associated Press reports. Seventh-grader Evelyn Juárez of Santa Cruz, New Mexico, won after spelling “bizantisimo”—which means excess luxury—correctly. 

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the Carlos F. Vigil Middle School student and her runner-up, Germán Rojero, each spelled about 20 words correctly to beat out nine other students.  The newspaper reported that contestants traveled from as far as Texas and Oregon to compete in the contest.  Juárez said she prepared for the spelling bee with the help of family by practicing words every day and was very nervous the day of the competition. “I know both of us are very good, and very good competitors,” she said of her opponent Rojero. 

“The event offers the opportunity for all Spanish-speaking children across the nation, be they mother-tongue speakers or kids who are learning the language, to showcase their command of Spanish spelling,” David Briseno, who oversees New Mexico’s Association for Bilingual Education, told the newspaper.  “The spelling bee challenges native and non-native speakers alike to excel in important academic arenas within the language arts.”