WEST HARTFORD — After 19 riveting rounds of spelling, the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society and Hartford Courant named Aritra Banerjee the 2018 Connecticut spelling champion, according to a press release from the Webster House. The Connecticut Spelling Bee took place on March 10 at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford.
Aritra Banerjee, a fifth-grader from West Hill School in Rocky Hill, out-spelled his 34 competitors. His winning word, “inevitability,” will advance him to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society and the Hartford Courant will send Aritra and his parents to the bee just outside Washington, D.C.
Students studied hundreds of words to prepare for the spelling bee. Roughly 200 of those words made their way into the competition. For the last five rounds, however, none of the words were on their study lists. Banerjee faced off against Zaen Quaisar, an eighth-grader from Whisconier Middle School in Brookfield. In those last rounds, Quaisar correctly spelled “referendum,” “obsessive,” and “concession’” before incorrectly spelling “magisterial.”
The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society and the Hartford Courant collaborated for the first time in 2017 to offer The Connecticut Spelling Bee. This state-wide spelling competition is the last step on the path to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Students from 35 different schools competed. Participating students in grades 4 through 8 won their school- or town-wide spelling bees to qualify for the state-wide bee. The overall winner of the state competition will represent Connecticut on the national stage in Washington, D.C.
Hosting the bee is a natural fit for the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society and the Hartford Courant. Both believe in the principles of the Scripps National Spelling Bee: to celebrate words and inspire new generations of readers. Through their study of words, spelling bee students become familiar with both etymology and current language trends.
“The command the spellers have of the English language is so impressive,” Executive Director Jennifer Matos said. “It’s amazing to see 12- and 13-year-olds correctly spell words that most adults have never even heard of.”
Webster’s Dictionary serves as the final authority for the Scripps National Spelling Bee and its affiliates. Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is the original source for today’s Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Even in his own lifetime, Noah Webster recognized the changing nature of language. Carrying on Webster’s mission to always reflect the language of the American people, today Merriam-Webster continues to add new words to the dictionary annually.
As the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper, it is not surprising that the Hartford Courant was around when Noah Webster was a young man. One of Noah Webster’s first experiences with the written word was submitting letters to the editor of the Hartford Courant (then called the Connecticut Courant). Now, about 250 years later, the same newspaper is sponsoring The Connecticut Spelling for the second year in a row.
The bee took place in Noah Webster’s home town of West Hartford. “Webster would have been proud of the 35 exemplary students who took to the stage on March 10,” commented the museum’s Public Programs Manager and “Queen Bee” Sophie Huget. “We are grateful to the University of Saint Joseph for hosting the event, and to the Hartford Courant for sponsoring this celebration of literacy and language.”
Congratulations to all spelling bee competitors: Nina Fishman, Juliet McShane, Rod Chittem, Quinn Moynihan, Charles Fennell, Saleh Mohamendour, Anupriya Lulla, Jerry Li, Aleksandr Romanenko, Isabella Lombardo, Adam Allegro, Elizabeth Shea, Christina Roby, Kathryn Velazquez, Haley Nguyen, Sophie Kudler, Jack Reynolds, Janelle Newell, Carley Parente, Ethan Cain, Aidan Pesce, Sana Sarr, Sarah Berger, Landon Cody, Allyson Morozuk, Thomas Saso, Benjamin Ruais, Gautham Kumar, Elise Kennedy, Haldan Dickinson, Cierra O’Sullivan, Isabel Cintron, Jeremy Keeler, and Zaen Quaisar.