AMHERST — The 2014 West District Spelling Bee was a sweet finish for Ozi Ojukwu when she correctly spelled empanada — a turnover filled with a sugary or savory filling.
Ozi, 13, an eighth-grader at First Baptist Christian School of Elyria, and Elizabeth Ziegelmeyer, 14, an eighth-grade student at St. Jude School, were the final two spellers during Friday night’s spelling bee.
Ozi and Elizabeth, along with 14 additional spellers from the West District Spelling Bee, will advance to the Regional Finals Bee at Midview West Elementary School. They will join the 16 finalists from the East District Spelling Bee after next Friday’s competition.
After correctly spelling “participant,” Ozi was given the word “empanada,” which she flawlessly spelled for the judges.
“I was really surprised. I never thought I’d win this,” Ozi said.
Ozi, the daughter of Mbanefo and Ifeoma Ojukwu, learned by attending last year’s spelling bee that to advance, she needed to practice.
“I practiced every day and my mom, dad and brothers quizzed me,” she said.
Ozi wasn’t the only family member competing in the bee Friday. Her younger brother, Ebuka Ojukwu, a seventh-grader, also participated in Friday’s spell-off.
Bonnie Parker served as the spelling adviser for Ozi and Ebuka.
Elizabeth’s parents, Jim and Terry Ziegelmeyer, credit her love of reading for spurring her on to the runner-up finish Friday.
“She is always reading,” her dad said.
Elizabeth admitted she was nervous during the bee, but said there was never a time she was unsure until the final word, “participant.”
In order to be declared the winner of the bee, the student must correctly spell two words consecutively.
Mary Primm served as the spelling adviser at St. Jude.
The champion of the final bee will represent the Educational Service Center Region 2 and The Chronicle-Telegram at the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee the week of May 26 in Washington, D.C.