Each year, middle school students from across the region compete for the opportunity to represent our area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This year's competition featured more than 40 spellers.

The Bee helps students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives. In addition to the academic benefits, students also develop important life skills – like goal setting, time management and public speaking – that will help them as they advance in school and eventually to successful careers.

This year's competition was the first one to be held in person since the pandemic sent competitors online to compete virtually for the last two years. Students were excited to once again be in the WHRO Public Media TV studio for the competition. 

Some competitors said nerves were a big factor for them, while others took being on television in stride. 

"It was nerve-wracking at the beginning but during the second round I wasn't as scared, and then in the third round I psyched myself out. My nerves got the best of me and I was eliminated," said Liam Patton, who attend the Ann H. Kilgore Gifted Center. The word he went out on was "bachelorette." "I knew there was supposed to be an "e" in there somewhere," he said after missing the letter "e" between the letters "h" and "l." 

Memphis Perkins, who attends homeschool, said the competition was enjoyable. "You can't help but smile," he said. "It is nerve-wracking for the first part, but once you get at least one word right then it gets easier as it goes on."

"The best part of competing for me was interacting with all the other spellers," said Logan Binette, from Elizabeth City Middle School. Others echoed his comments saying that all the competitors were very supportive of each other. 

After many rounds of intense competition, three champions emerged.

Spelling Bee 2023 Winner

Rohith Konduri, from Norfolk Academy, took first place in the competition. He was the regional bee's third-place winner last year. His winning word in this year's competition was "anathema," which means "someone or something intensely disliked or loathed." The word was once a synonym for "excommunication" in the early Roman church. 

Xynthia Anthony, from Yorktown Middle School, placed second in the competition.

noah larsen sm
Xynthia Anthony
7th Grade, Yorktown Middle School

Mihika Sakharpe, from Old Donation School in Virginia Beach, placed third.

Mihika Sakharpe
8th Grade, Old Donation School

Congratulations to everyone who competed!