Spelling Bee Champion Zaila Avant-Garde Welcomed Back Home With Authentic Louisiana Victory Celebration
It looked like Mardi Gras had returned on Sunday, but New Orleans was celebrating for a different reason—the return of Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion Zaila Avant-Garde.
The seventh grader returned to the Crescent City on Sunday after being crowned champion when she successfully spelled the word "murraya" at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on July 8. She was greeted in style with a parade and second line led by Zulu Tramps. There was music, dancing, balloons, and handmade signs held aloft to congratulate the 14-year-old on her incredibly impressive feat. So many people showed up to welcome home the spelling bee queen, that the party stretched all the way from New Orleans to Avant-Garde's hometown of Harvey, according to ABC.
There was a lot to celebrate. Not only was Avant-Garde the country's new reigning spelling champion, but she is the first African American to win the spelling bee in the competition's nearly 100-year history. Avant-Garde is no stranger to winning. The middle school student already holds three Guinness World Records for her basketball skills, which she claims is her real passion in life. She just considers her impressive spelling ability to be a fun hobby.
In addition to the honor of winning the bee, Avant-Garde was offered full academic scholarships to both Louisiana State University and Southern University, Fox 8 reports. The young champion currently has her eyes set on Harvard and potentially a career at NASA—unless her love of basketball earns her a spot in the WNBA or even coaching in the NBA.
That may sound like a big dream, but Avant-Garde believes in aiming high, WWLTV reported the young star saying: "Don't let anybody stop you, don't let anybody say you can't, just go for it." If she achieves all that, perhaps New Orleans will throw her another parade.