West Hartford Hosts Connecticut Spelling Bee

Arin Bhandari received $1,000 scholarship from the University of Saint Joseph for winning the Connecticut Spelling Bee. He is pictured with (from left) judge Dr. Catherine Kurkjian, pronouncer Dr. William Dolan, judge Andrew Julien, judge Dr. Mark Zelinsky, Noah Webster House Executive Director Jennifer DiCola Matos. Courtesy photo

A West Hartford student took second place in the Connecticut Spelling Bee held Saturday at the University of Saint Joseph.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford was the site of the Connecticut Spelling Bee on Saturday, as 35 top spellers from throughout the state competed for the privilege of heading to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

That prize belongs to Arin Bhandari, a sixth grader at Carrigan Intermediate School in West Haven, who after more than a dozen rounds won with the correct spelling of the word “onus” and is very excited about heading to Washington.

Three West Hartford students – one from each public middle school – competed in the statewide bee, held at the University of Saint Joseph. The event was open to winners of school or town-wide bees throughout Connecticut.

Anthony Heller, a seventh-grader at King Philip Middle School, finished in second place. Madeline Gamester of Bristow Middle School and Lindy Quach of Sedgwick Middle School also participated.

The Noah Webster House and the Hartford Courant took over the Connecticut Bee this year after Quinnipiac University and the New Haven Register withdrew sponsorship.

“As the birthplace of founding father and lexicographer Noah Webster, it was not only apropos but also our privilege to co-sponsor the Connecticut Spelling Bee with the Hartford Courant,” said Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society Executive Director Jennifer DiCola Matos. “We were so impressed by the poise and knowledge of the competing students. They can all be proud of this great achievement,” she said.

According to Matos, Scripps has a list of more than 1,000 study words (all taken from the Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary) that students can use to prepare for the Bee. She said it’s up to teachers to provide the list, but those are not necessarily the words used in the competition.

In the first several rounds the Connecticut Bee used a “final local bee” word list of 300 words provided by Scripps, Matos said. The words used in the later rounds came from a list of 200 from the Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary, but those did not appear on the study list, she said.

Approximately 250 people, in addition to the spellers, attended the Connecticut Spelling Bee. Dr. William Dolan served as “pronouncer,” and judges were Hartford Courant Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Andrew Julien, Central Connecticut State University Professor Dr. Catherine Kurkjian, and University of Saint Joseph Professor Dr. Mark Zelinsky.

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Anthony Heller, a seventh-grader at King Philip Middle School, finished in second place in the Connecticut Spelling Bee. Courtesy photo

Arin Bhandari (no. 6, blue shirt) was the winner of the Connecticut Spelling Bee. Courtesy photo

Spelling Bee participants on stage at University of Saint Joseph. Courtesy photo

Connecticut Spelling Bee participant medals. Courtesy photo

Sedgwick Middle School student Lindy Quach. Courtesy photo

University of Saint Joseph President Dr. Rhona Free addresses the spellers. Courtesy photo

Connecticut Spelling Bee. Courtesy photo

Spelling Bee contestants. Courtesy photo

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