George Moody Middle School student wins 2023 Divisionwide Spelling Bee

Elina Habib reacts after clinching Henrico County Public Schools’ 2023 Divisionwide Spelling Bee on Tuesday evening at Deep Run High School. The George Moody Middle School eighth grader will represent the school division in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Regional Spelling Bee.

Henrico, Va., Jan. 11, 2023 — Elina Habib is Henrico County Public Schools’ 2023 spelling champion. The eighth grade student at George Moody Middle School correctly spelled “silhouette” Tuesday evening to clinch the championship of HCPS’ 2023 Divisionwide Spelling Bee. The 13-year-old won in the 11th round of the bee, held this year at Deep Run High School. Eleven-year-old Sandy Erijarla, a sixth grade student at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School, was runner-up. The annual competition includes spelling champions from each of the division’s elementary and middle schools.

Among the words Elina spelled correctly to win the title were “teleology,” “convivium” and “graticule.”

After the bee, the winner was presented with the HCPS spelling trophy by Kristi Kinsella, HCPS School Board vice chair and Brookland District representative, and Lesley Hughes, the division’s chief learning officer. The trophy, topped with a whimsical bee, will be on display at George Moody 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, who won the title from 2014-17. The Henrico Education Foundation had the trophy made.

Elina 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.

Elina Habib displays the championship trophy after clinching Henrico County Public Schools’ 2023 Divisionwide Spelling Bee on Tuesday evening at Deep Run High School. The George Moody Middle School student stands with Kristi Kinsella, HCPS School Board vice chair and Brookland District representative; Sandy Erijarla, 2023 runner-up; and Lesley Hughes, the school division’s chief learning officer.
Participants wait for the start of Henrico County Public Schools’ 2023 Divisionwide Spelling Bee on Tuesday evening at Deep Run High School.