Alkadir family continues spelling bee dominance

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 03:33 PM

LEXINGTON - The Alkadir family isn't ready to give up their hold on the Davidson County Schools Spelling Bee quite yet.
With Nejat Alkadir, the three-time spelling bee champion, now roaming the halls at Ledford High School, the annual competition appeared poised for a new face.
When the dust finally settled, however, the new champion looked a lot like the old one. As did the runner-up.
Hayat Alkadir, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Ledford Middle School, on Feb. 21 picked up where her sister left off as she won the 2014 Davidson County Spelling Bee in a hotly contested matchup with her brother Hamza Alkadir.
Hayat's win at Davis-Townsend Elementary School is the fourth straight for the Alkadir family.
“It feels amazing,” said Hayat, who won the competition in her first and only try. “I get to do just what my sister did. I used her experience and it kind of rubbed off on me.”
Once Wallburg Elementary School's Drew Hey missed “bravura” in Round 12, Hayat and Hamza were the only two spellers left standing. The siblings battled word-for-word over the next 10 rounds before the younger brother finally slipped. Hamza, a 9-year-old student at Friendship Elementary, in Round 23 missed “Geronimo,” opening the door for his older sister.
Hayat spelled “lederhosen” to win the competition and advance to the regional finals on March 23 at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem.
“I thought it would never end because we study together, the same words,” Hayat said. “I wanted to be co-champions but I knew that couldn't happen.”
Hamza, competing in the spelling bee for the second time, feels his time will come.
“I've looked at [Geronimo] before but I never really studied,” said Hamza. “But I don't care right now because she got first and I got second. It was just fun because she's my sister and everything is OK. I think I can win next year.”
Hayat still has quite a way to go to match her sister, who advanced all the way to the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.
Najet said the road gets much tougher from here.
“The words are a lot harder and you have to study a lot more,” Najet said. “It's not going to be as easy because the words are so different. If she wins [the regional], we get to go back to Washington D.C.”
Twenty five of Davidson County's best young spellers started the competition. By the end of Round 6, only four remained. Brown Middle School's Caroline Sutphin advanced to Round 10 before stumbling on “imam,” leaving only Hey and the Alkadirs.
“They are an amazing family,” said Dr. Lory Morrow, Davidson County Schools superintendent. “I've never seen anything like it and we'd love to know what their secret is. I'm proud of all of them.”
Hayat and Hamza received $100 and $50 gift certificates, respectively, from NewBridge Bank. Every competitor came away with a certificate and a goody bag for representing their schools in the competition.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or