Henrico, Va., Jan. 19, 2022 — Maybe Mu Zhen Yong and her family will celebrate this week by going out for jambalaya. The fifth grade student at Nuckols Farm Elementary School correctly spelled the name of that Cajun rice dish Tuesday evening to clinch the championship of Henrico County Public Schools’ 2022 Divisionwide Spelling Bee. The 10-year-old’s win came in the 11th round of the bee, held this year at Glen Allen High School. Emi Brinegar, an eighth grader at Tuckahoe Middle School, was runner-up. The annual competition includes spelling champions from each of HCPS’ elementary and middle schools.
Among the words Mu Zhen spelled correctly to win the title were “detritus,” “quorum” and “aromatherapy.”
After the bee, the winner was presented with the HCPS spelling trophy by division representatives, including Kristi Kinsella, HCPS School Board vice chair and Brookland District representative, and Amy Cashwell, superintendent. Mu Zhen is the first elementary school student to win the HCPS competition since 2014. The trophy, topped with a whimsical bee, will be on display at Nuckols Farm until at least next January, when a new champion is crowned. The award was made possible by a donation from four-time Henrico spelling champion Tejas Muthusamy, the last elementary student to take the title. The Henrico Education Foundation had the trophy made.
Mu Zhen will now move on to represent Henrico County Public Schools in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Regional Spelling Bee. The regional winner will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is held the week of Memorial Day and televised by ESPN.