Sixth-Grader Maya Matava Wins Maryland Eastern Shore Spelling Bee at UMES with h-e-r-b-i-v-o-r-e
Sixth-grader Maya Matava of Hebron is the
2016 champion of the Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee.
The 12-year-old representing Salisbury Middle School
emerged the winner after 90 minutes, demonstrating her ability to spell as well
as define words flawlessly over 16 rounds.
The championship word was “herbivore” after Maya correctly
spelled “empanada” to put herself in a position to win the event.
The runner-up was Lochlyn Carmean, 11, a Fruitland
Intermediate School fifth-grader who dueled Maya head-to-head for three rounds
before stumbling on the word “stipple.”
Both spellers were matched word-for-word for five rounds
by 8-year-old Ayati Sangwan, a soft-spoken fifth-grader from North
Salisbury Elementary School.
Maya will represent a four-county region – Dorchester,
Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester – at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in
Washington this May.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore sponsors the
annual competition as an outreach initiative to local schools, which employ
UMES graduates or provide practice-teaching opportunities for university
Maya, who competed a year ago as a representative of North
Salisbury Elementary, bested 51 other spellers to win the 2016 title, which
included a keepsake medallion and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.
For the first time, the Regional Bee at UMES included
a home-schooled student and two Worcester County competitors who attend Snow
Hill Middle School.
After the competition, Maya told those offering
congratulations she was nervous under bright lights in the Fitzgerald Center
for the Performing Arts.
Her body language on stage, however, belied that assertion.
She strode to the microphone confidently, used her left hand as a tablet to “write”
the word with the right, just as many national-level competitors do, and rarely
hesitated as she plucked off each word presented to her with ease.
“I was the one who was nervous,” her mother, Lynn
Matava, said. “I’m not sure this has sunk in for her or me, yet.”
Story and photo from University of Maryland Eastern Shore