LORAIN — A Longfellow sixth-grader is the building's
spelling bee queen.
I'Lyiah Ayala, 12, won the building's inaugural spelling bee
Wednesday evening, beating out 21 other sixth, seventh and eighth graders by
correctly spelling the word "therapeutic."
She said she hadn't started studying until Tuesday night.
But crammed that night at the behest of her aunt, Patricia Flowers.
"She tried to give me words for me to spell and I
couldn't spell them. She told me to go to my room, no TV and then she told me
to look at them for 15 minutes. I stayed up there for 30 minutes and I missed
my favorite show — '227' — but it's OK. It was worth it."
Flowers ran for Lorain mayor in 2019.
I'Lyiah will have to compete again next year to qualify for
the Scripps Natinonal Spelling Bee, as the county's program is open to seventh
"It's a huge bummer that I'lyiah can't go as a
sixth-grader because she was obviously fantastic, but that's how it worked out
like that," Principal Andrew Hoffman said. "But she is our Longfellow
spelling bee champion."
He said she will be recognized on the morning announcements
and received a medal 3D-printed by the building's VEX robotics students.
Runners-up eighth-grader Julian Rivera and seventh-grader
Elizabeth Manning, will represent the district at the county's qualifier in the
spring and compete for a chance to go to the national bee in Washington, D.C.
Longfellow Middle School is the only building in the
district enrolled in the Scripps Spelling Bee program.
Hoffman said Wednesday's bee has been in the works since
about October, with English classes throughout the building holding their own
competitions to make up the 21 finalists.
"They spent a ton of time practicing," Hoffman
said of the students. "We did a little walk through the other day and it's
just really awesome to see them in another environment where they're
Bee organizer and Dean of Academics Margo Bell said she saw
students quizzing each during lunch and in the hallway as the bee neared.
She made a push to bring the bee back, after at least a
decade without one in the district, to bring back some "old school
"I wanted to provide kids that weren't necessarily
natural athletes with an avenue for competition and also to allow parents to
come root on their kid that might not be (at a) traditional sporting
event," she said.
Hoffman and Bell hope
next year marks the inaugural districtwide spelling bee — with competitions at
Southview, Longfellow and General Johnnie Wilson middle schools to determine
who to send to the county competition.
The county-wide spelling bee is March 20 at Avon Middle
School. The 93rd Scripps National Spelling bee is May 24-29 in Washington, D.C.