Zaila Avant-garde of Louisiana is the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion!

Zaila Avant-garde made history on July 8, 2021 becoming the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion. She is the first Louisianan ever to win the bee. She is the first African-American to win the bee (only the second Black contestant to win after Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica won in 1998). She is the first home-schooled winner since 2000.

The 14-year-old from Harvey, Louisiana, received the Scripps Cup at the tournament, held at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, after correctly spelling “murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic or Australian trees. You can watch Zaila’s winning moment spelling “murraya” here.

Zaila’s road to the 2021 championship started at the local round of the Scripps Spelling Bee in New Orleans in March 2021. For over 30 years, The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has hosted the local round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  The goal of the spelling bee is to encourage students in grades 5th through 8th to challenge themselves to master the fundamentals of vocabulary and spelling. 

The Chapter was honored to tell the world about its long support and involvement with the Scripps National Spelling Bee. WDSU-TV in New Orleans gave  the chapter that opportunity. Past Chapter President, Vonda Flentroy-Rice, chronicled the chapter’s bee history.  

Zaila’s Scripps cup will get to join another impressive feat: owning three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously. She is also a basketball prodigy (an elite middle-school prospect) and hopes to ultimately play in the WNBA.

New Orleans news outlet, WWL-TV, featured Zaila after her win and also captured The New Orleans (LA) Chapter’s pride in being a part of Zaila’s journey. 

Zaila is such a multi-talented, multi-faceted young lady. Whatever she decides to do in the future, we have no doubt that she will exceed expectations. 

As the champion, Zaila will receive:

From the Scripps National Spelling Bee:

  • a $50,000 cash prize
  • a commemorative medal
  • the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

 From Merriam-Webster:

  • a $2,500 cash prize and reference library

 From Encyclopedia Britannica:

  • $400 of reference works, including a 1768 Encyclopedia Britannica Replica Set and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

Congratulations Zaila!