Spelling Bee champion crowned


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Isabella Cowan had danced her way across the stage at the St. Clair College Center for the Arts several times prior to her latest performance Sunday.

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In the past, however, she used her feet as part of an actual dance recital.

This time, all the fancy footwork was done mentally as Cowan prevailed over 27 others to win the 2022 WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee.

The Grade 6 student at St. Andre French Immersion elementary school spent her March break studying, so she was ready when Pronouncer Craig Pearson, Windsor Star managing editor, challenged her to spell “edification” for the win.

“I remembered studying it,” the 11-year-old said after accepting the championship trophy, a bouquet of roses, a $250 WFCU scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC in June for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts.  Runner-up Zain Malik from Academie Ste Cecile International School and winner Isabella Cowan from St. Andre French Immersion Catholic Elementary are shown at the event.
The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts. Runner-up Zain Malik from Academie Ste Cecile International School and winner Isabella Cowan from St. Andre French Immersion Catholic Elementary are shown at the event. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The field was wall down to three after 10 rounds of word play. Academie Ste. Cecile’s Emma Persaud bowed out in Round 12 when she got tripped up by ‘bulwark,’ leaving Cowan going head-to-head with Academie Ste. Cecile’s Zain Malik.

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Malik pushed it two more rounds before falling on the word ‘arsenic.’

The 13-year-old Grade 8 student didn’t leave the auditorium empty handed as he too earned an all-expenses paid trip to the nationals in Washington DC and a $150 WFCU scholarship.

Organizers decided prior to Sunday that two students from this year’s regional would advance to Washington in a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing an in-person bee from being held last year.

The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts.  Isaac Brogan from Maranatha Christian Academy says a little prayer between rounds.
The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts. Isaac Brogan from Maranatha Christian Academy says a little prayer between rounds. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” said Malik who admitted to a case of nerves in the later rounds.

Cowan said she was outright “terrified” sitting under the glare of a spotlight before an audience of parents and family.

“I just tried to think to myself that it doesn’t matter how I do, just as long as I have fun,” she said.

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The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts.  Royika Alebrahimy from St. Louis Catholic Elementary School gestures as she departs the stage after the incorrect spelling of a word.
The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts. Royika Alebrahimy from St. Louis Catholic Elementary School gestures as she departs the stage after the incorrect spelling of a word. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Cowan successfully negotiated the various vowels and consonants required to spell target, newbie, neigh, celery, agonistic, angora, utilitarian, obediential, carnage, absolution, macrocosm and debris on her way to victory.

One of the most resilient competitors was Isaac Brogan, from Maranatha Christian Academy. A judge inadvertently sounded the bell for disqualification after he correctly spelled ‘collegiality.’ After a brief discussion, Pearson informed Brogan he was indeed right and the plucky youngster regrouped and advanced two more rounds before bowing out with a tough draw in ‘manumit.’

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The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts.  Emma Persaud from Academie Ste Cecile International School reacts to the correct spelling of a word.
The annual WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee returned to an in-person format for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at the St. Clair Center for the Arts. Emma Persaud from Academie Ste Cecile International School reacts to the correct spelling of a word. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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