Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy eighth grader Marium Zahra is once again the queen bee of El Paso after battling 20 other spellers from west Texas and Southern New Mexico to win the 2022 El Paso Regional Spelling Bee on Friday at Andress High School.
She went toe-to-toe with other top spellers and won the championship by correcting spelling the word topgallant, a noun that is the section of a square-rigged sailing ship’s mast immediately above the topmast.
She once again has qualified to represent the region at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be televised from Washington, D.C. in June.
Marium, who is also the 2020 and 2021 EPISD Spanish Spelling Bee, credits her first place goldware to the many hours she spent studying with her parents and Young Women’s STEAM teacher Phenicia Massaquoi.
“My mom would just give me words and go super quickly, and my dad would make jokes while we did the words so that the words would stick,” Marium said. “Even if you study a whole lot – just be confident in yourself. That was my biggest problem coming onto the stage.”
Marium overcame that fear by maximizing her studies during lunch time and after school.
“She’s extremely confident,” teacher Massaquoi said. “She’s very well prepared and takes a lot of initiative on her own.”
Friday’s competition at the new Andress High School Performance Arts Center was the first time spellers met in person since the pandemic. Last year’s regional spelling bee was done virtually.
A total of 20 spellers scored high-enough in the qualifying test to earn a spot on the stage. The students came from as far as Carlsbad, N.M., and included public school, private school and charter school students, as well as homeschooled students.
Avid reader and first-time competitor, Abraham Miller from Desert Spring Christian Academy in Las Cruces earned second place by studying the pages of Scripps words.
“My parents would quiz me on the hard ones,” he said. “If I missed them, I would go over them again.”
This was the fourth visit to the regional bee stage for third-place winner Anelise Elmquist, an eighth-grader from Sierra Middle School in Las Cruces.
“It’s bittersweet because this is the last year,” said Laura Elmquist, Anelise’s mother. “But she won third place. It’s a nice sendoff.”
Marium is ready with her flashcards on hand for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. on June 2.
The El Paso Regional Spelling Bee is presented by the EPISD Education Foundation and sponsored by Peter Piper Pizza.