Bay St. Louis student wins state runner-up for National Spelling Bee

Published: May. 15, 2022 at 3:23 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - The National Spelling Bee is right around the corner, and you can find our state’s runner up in Hancock County ready to go as an alternate if needed.

“I just think it’s fun to figure out how to spell words that you’ve never seen before,” Elizabeth Simpson told WLOX.

Elizabeth is an eighth grader at Our Lady Academy, an all-girls private school in Bay St. Louis. She’s also the Mississippi runner-up for the National Spelling Bee.

“I started doing spelling bees when I was in third grade,” she said. “I mainly got into it because my brother did them.”

We first featured the sibling-spelling duo back in 2019, before her brother Mathew Simpson also placed state runner up.

The 2022 Mississippi Spelling Bee concluded on March 19 with a tie between Elizabeth and Eltahir Zein from Rankin County for runner up.

The two went head-to-head in a 13-round tiebreaker at the University of Southern Mississippi, and Elizabeth won.

“You really get close to the people that you do it with,” she said. “It’s nice to meet all the people there because, you know, you all do spelling bees. You all usually have a lot of things to relate to. And I remember a lot of people from the state spelling bee, and it was really fun to get to know them and stuff.”

She said she studied with her mom Janet Simpson every night and began preparing about seven months in advance.

“For a parent, it was very nerve-racking,” Janet said.

Janet is also a math teacher at her school.

“It is nice to see her succeed so much when she, you know, puts all the work into it,” she said.

But now, the two say they are heading into retirement.

“It is good mother-daughter bonding time, so, yeah, I will miss that a little bit. But the words, I mean, some of them were quite challenging for me to say to her,” she said laughing.

234 spellers from around the world will gather in Washington D.C. for the National Spelling Bee beginning with preliminaries on May 31. The final contest is scheduled for June 2, which will be available to livestream.

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