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WNY 7th grader competing in Scripps National Spelling Bee this week

She picked up these skills in 6 months
Leila is one of 234 spellers competing
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 05:12:57-04

CLARENCE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Art, running and social studies are 12-year-old Leila Hu's specialties. This school year, she unexpectedly added spelling to her list of talents, landing her a spot in the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"I think it's pretty fun to see how I just went from being a beginner in spelling, I had no experience, to going to nationals," said Leila Hu of Clarence.

The 7th grader studies constantly, sometimes for eight hours on weekends. It all started with a push from her friends.

"My friend was going to do a school spelling bee. I wasn't gonna do it because it was during lunch and and I didn't want to miss my lunch, but I decided since all my friends were gonna do it, there was no point at not doing it," said Hu.

She went on to qualify and then win the Clarence Middle School spelling bee and then the regional competition after that. This week, she'll head to Washington D.C. as Speller #150 of 234 contestants.

"A lot of concentration and I think it will be fine. I mean as long as i studied enough, I think it will be okay," said Hu.

7News sat down with her as she confidently and correctly spelled words like, "corybantic", "griot", "croquingole", vexillologist". She says the words of Spanish origin are her favorites to spell.

Her mom and dad will be in the crowd, cheering her on.

"As long as she works hard, she tried her best, so that's good enough," said Yanzi Li, her mother.

Since this is her first try, she can always go for another try next year.

How to watch Leila:

  • Preliminaries: 9am on May 31
    • This is streaming online only for free on ION Plus and Bounce XL channels
  • Quarterfinals: 8am on June 1
    • This is streaming online only for free on ION Plus and Bounce XL channels
  • Semifinals: approx 4pm on June 1
    • Live streamed and aired on TV on ION and Bounce channels
  • Finals: 8pm on June 2
    • Live streamed and aired on TV on ION and Bounce channels

Click here for instructions on how to watch the Bee in a specific area.