El Paso Student wins National Spanish Spelling Bee

El Paso Independent School District student, Sheneli De Silva,  wins the 2022 National Spanish Spelling Bee which was hosted in El Paso by Education Service  Center Region 19 at the Starlight Event Center on July 29-30, 2022. 

On Saturday, July 30, over 20 competitors, from various states such as Wyoming, California,  Washington, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas, started the national competition at  approximately 9:30AM. After several rounds and hours, the competition was narrowed down to  the final two contestants in which ultimately at approximately 1PM, De Silva won the competition  by correctly spelling the word ‘herético’ (which means ‘heretical’ in English).  

“I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the prize money. Perhaps save it for college,” said De Silva  after winning the $500 first place grand prize check and national title. “It was a lot of hard work  and I practiced quite a bit with the help from my family,” De Silva said. She will be an 8th grader  for the 2022-2023 school year at the Young Women’s STEAM Research Preparatory, EPISD,  and hopes to one day attend a prestigious school such as Harvard University to become a  doctor. “This was a great experience! I got to meet and make friends with many of the kids…I  will definitely be back next year to defend my title,” De Silva said.  

2022 NSSB Top Three Winners were:  

1st place ($500): Sheneli De Silva, El Paso, TX 

2nd place ($350): Natalia Acosta from Las Cruces, New Mexico  

3rd place ($150): America Agis from San Antonio Texas (whose younger sister Frida Agis also  competed in the NSSB)  

“We consider all of the contestants to be winners since they’ve made it to this national level,”  said David Briseño, NSSB Founder and Coordinator. All of the contestants were recognized with  medals & custom t-shirts during a reception dinner after the competition. “We are very proud of  the diversity of the contestants and the high level of academic rigor these young students excel  in,” said Briseño who initiated the program 11 years ago. Several students speak more than two  languages, including the winner De Silva who speaks Sinhala, English and Spanish. “Our goal is  to give students an unforgettable positive experience that will help them not only academically  but also with their confidence, public speaking skills and the ability to thrive under pressure,”  Briseño said.  

During the reception, parents and students were given an opportunity to share their  experiences. Many stood up and shared that they appreciated that although their son or  daughter may have not won, they were glad they participated because they were still made to  feel like they were all winners.  

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