Sixth-grader Sophia Roberto wins Scripps Regional Spelling Bee

April 10, 2018 GMT

Sixth-grader Sophia Roberto won the 24th annual The Philadelphia Tribune/Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at the School of the Future last month.

A student at the Philadelphia Academy Charter School, Roberto had to win two bees to qualify for the regional. This year was also Roberto’s first time participating in the regional bee.

“I’m so happy. I was really nervous because I know there were a lot of smart kids here prepared to win,” said Roberto, then adding the secret to her success. “If you want to do it, you have to be prepared. It’s a lot of time and commitment.You have to sacrifice other things. A lot of things I wasn’t able to do with my friends. I spent that time studying. And some of my other schoolwork, it had to wait to put the bee first.”


Roberto will travel to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national Scripps Spelling Bee at the end of May. She also won a trophy, laptop, a Samuel Louis Sugarman Award Certificate, and one-year subscriptions to Britannica Online and Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online.

Cat Doan of William M. Meredith School was first runner-up to Roberto. Neven Hicks, a sixth-grader at Alternative Middle Years (AMY) Northwest, won third place. He was given a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition. By the middle of the seventh round he was the only Black youth and the only male out of seven other competitors.

“I feel OK,” he said of his results, adding next year he will “try harder.” Even though he did not win the top prize, he offered tips for other youth who aspire to compete on a high level.

“You can feel confident, but not too confident [where] you spell it wrong. You need to focus and make sure every single letter is right the first time.”

Hicks said to prepare, he and his father wrote and reviewed words on note cards and he also looked up words and their pronunciation in the dictionary with his mother.

Charlotte Gochenauer of Julia R. Masterman School was the winner of the Fifth-Grade Spelldown. First runner-up was Caleb T. Mathew of Joseph J. Greenberg Elementary School.

“This is something we are very proud of,” said Robert Bogle, president of the Philadelphia Tribune, a sponsor of the spelling bee. “It encourages the young men and women in our schools to excel and achieve.”

AmeriHealth Caritas and the School District of Philadelphia were also sponsors of the bee, which included more than 50 schools and more than 50 students.