May 28, 2024 - Things to Do

Meet Louisiana's Scripps National Spelling Bee contenders

Zaila Avant-garde grasps a trophy as she smiles and stands at a microphone.

Zaila Avant-garde's star has only grown since she won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Louisiana has five students competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year.

Why it matters: The spelling bee is like America's version of "The Great British Bake-Off," which is to say it's the wholesome content we all crave.

Yes, but: We still want our hometown kids to take everyone else down.

Here are Louisiana's spellers this year:

  • Hi-Tai Lu, 14, from Baton Rouge. He's a Glasgow Middle School student.
  • Aidan Pham, 14, from Lafayette. He's competed twice before, and tied for 23rd last year.
  • Paranika Ethakota, 9, from Lake Charles. She loves to play soccer and is an Alex Morgan fan.
  • Nayara de Silva-Ahmed, 14, from New Orleans. She goes to Metairie Park Country Day School, where she organized a school-wide readathon.
  • Sanil Thorat, 8, from Shreveport. He likes Vivaldi's "Summer."

How to watch: Preliminaries begin Tuesday at 7am on Ion Plus.

  • Quarterfinals continue at 7am Wednesday, also on Ion Plus.
  • Things get serious Wednesday night with the semifinals at 7pm on Ion.
  • And it wraps up Thursday with the finals at 7pm on Ion.
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