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Roxbury seventh grader wins Boston’s citywide spelling bee

Speller #2 Sulayman Abdirahman with his trophy after winning the 14th annual BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee hosted by Boston Centers for Youth & Families at the Boston Public library. He will go on to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the nation's largest and longest-running spelling bee, in Washington, D.C..Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Boston’s 14th annual BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee ended Saturday afternoon with 12-year-old Sulayman Abdirahman correctly spelling the word “Apres.”

The young Roxbury resident lasted 12 normal rounds and 29 final rounds against 18 other students in Rabb Hall at the Boston Public Library’s Copley Branch. The event was sponsored by the Boston Centers for Youth & Families.

Abdirahman will compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May, where he will have the chance to be the first Massachusetts student to win the national competition since 1939.

Speller #1 Josephine LoRusso got things started at the 14th annual BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee hosted by Boston Centers for Youth & Families at the Boston Public Library on Saturday. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

“Congratulations to all of our student spellers today for the hard work, courage, and composure it takes to make it to the Citywide Spelling Bee. You all make Boston, your school communities, and your families proud,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “Thank you to the families and teachers who supported them along the way, and best of luck to Sulayman representing Boston.”

Abdirahman also received the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award — a 2022 US Mint Proof Set donated by Jay Sugarman in honor of his father, one-year subscriptions to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online and Encyclopedia Britannica Online Premium, and a trophy, according to a statement from the sponsoring group.


Anneliese Yu, 12, from Boston’s West End, came in second while Josephine LoRusso, 13, from the South End, came in third. Both students received an Amazon Fire 8 Tablet, a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card, and trophies, the statement said.

They are among more than 3,000 students from public and parochial schools in Boston who competed in spelling bees to qualify for Saturday’s event, which was sponsored by the Boston Bruins Foundation.

Speller #19 Tanoshi Inomata, a 9-year-old third grader from Allston, spelled a word at the BCYF Citywide Spelling Bee Saturday. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The spelling bee’s three judges were David Leonard, president of the Boston Public Library; Sebastian Stockman, professor of English at Northeastern University; and, Dave Silk, a Boston Bruins alumnus, 1980 US Olympic gold medalist, and a Boston Bruins Foundation Member.


Abdirahman will compete at the national spelling bee against more than 200 regional winners during Bee Week. The finalists will face off in a spelling bee hosted by LaVar Burton and aired live on ION June 2.

Caroline Enos can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.