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In almost 100 years of contests, Louisiana native Zaila Avant-garde became the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night. The 14-year-old from Harvey won with the word “murraya”, a genus belonging to a citrus family of flowering plants. Zaila was one of hundreds of students who competed.

In addition to being a champion speller, Zaila is also a Guinness World Record holder. She currently holds the following titles:

• Most balls juggled in one minute with four basketballs
• Most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs
• Most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously (6)

As if Zaila’s accomplishments before the 9th grade were not impressive enough, her next goal is to qualify for the 2022 USA Basketball under-16 national team. Zaila’s long-term goals include attending Harvard and coaching in the NBA.