Najet Alkadir claims spelling title for third time
With two straight spelling bee titles and a trip to Washington D.C. already under her belt, Ledford Middle School’s Najet Alkadir returned to Davis-Townsend Elementary School on Friday for a chance to add to an already amazing resume.
In her final trip to the Davidson County Spelling Bee, Alkadir ended a historic run of success with her third consecutive championship. The 13-year-old eighth grader correctly spelled “macadamia” in the final round to defeat London Hayes from South Davidson Middle School and punch her ticket to the regional finals in Winston-Salem on March 24.
“It feels good,” said the soft-spoken Alkadir, who was born in America to Ethiopian parents. “I’m excited to go to the regionals. When I heard the last word I got real excited and I thought this was my chance to win again. I was real happy.”
Alkadir’s chance for a 3-peat came after Hayes stumbled in the final round on the word “prodigal.” When Hayes missed, Alkadir had to spell two words right to claim the title. After breezing through “influenza,” a seemingly more confident Alkadir seized the moment.
“Usually, at first, I’m really nervous,” said Alkadir. “This year was a little better.”
Hayes had no regrets about finishing second to a three-time champion who advanced to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. last year.
“I didn’t know it,” Hayes said of the word prodigal. “I’m excited. I was a little nervous at the beginning but I’m kind of proud of now. I’m really happy for Nejat. She’s a really good speller. It just takes a lot of practice but I was happy to finish second.”
Joining Alkadir and Hayes as the final five contestants were Athena Lassiter from Midway Elementary, Emma Carpenter from Northwest Elementary and Brown Middle School’s Jalen Norton. Carpenter missed “synonym,” Lassiter was eliminated on “sombrero,” and Norton put an extra 'c' in “catkin.”
If future county spellers think they’ve seen last of the Alkadir family, think again. Nejat’s younger brother, 8-year-old Hamza Alkadir from Friendship Elementary School, made his first appearance at the spelling bee.
Nejat’s mother, Sitina Kerim, said her children help each other prepare and they both really enjoy competing.
“When she is studying, he picks it up,” said Kerim. “Sometimes he helps her and he’ll copy her. We’re proud of them both.”
When asked how she plans on duplicating last year’s run to Washington D.C., Alkadir said “study all the words in the dictionary.”
If Nejat’s success is any indication, chances are pretty good that the Alkadir family could be making a few more trips to the nation’s capital in the coming years.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.