Great Neck North Middle School student Brian Liu recently competed at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a 90-year-old tradition. Every year, students from across the country have the opportunity to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Program. Just as thousands of other students before them, the students progress from classroom to cafeteria to auditorium.
Liu is an 11-year-old from Great Neck and his spelling bee journey began in December of this year. The North Middle School English Department hosted the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee school-wide competition on Jan. 12. About 43 contestants in grades six, seven and eight earned a spot in the school-wide spelling bee by winning classroom-level spelling bees in December. After more than ten rounds and 230 words, seventh-grader Lila Halpert and sixth-grader Liu were the final two contestants on stage. Liu’s champion word was “marauding.”
After that, Liu went on to compete in the ScholarSkills Long Island Spelling Bee. He competed against 47 other students from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties to earn first place. The finals went on for hours and finally ended after Liu correctly spelled the word “bolognese”.
Liu’s win in the ScholarSkills Long Island Spelling Bee was celebrated by the Town of North Hempstead, where Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, Councilmember Veronica Lurvey, and the Town Board recently proudly welcomed Liu to Town Hall in May. They recognized him for his outstanding performance at the Long Island spelling bee.
In Washington D.C., Liu represented Long Island in the Scripps National Spelling Bee which took place from May 30 through June 1. For the Scripps National Spelling Bee, contestants have to spell the word correctly and know the definition. Liu made it through six rounds to the semifinals, where he was knocked out.
On June 26, Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip honored Liu for his achievements at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“I am so very proud of Brian for his achievement,” Legislator Pilip said in a press release from the Nassau County Legislator’s office. “He put himself out there against so many other contestants and stayed calm and strong. The fact that he accomplished that at the age of 11 is also such a wonderful achievement.”
In an interview with Legislator Pilip, she shared that the Liu family primarily speaks Chinese at home. “To get to this point without having your parents be native English speakers says something about Brian’s dedication to training for the spelling bee.”
Legislator Pilip came to America around 12 years old and, at the time, her parents didn’t know a word of English. “Growing up as a child without your parents knowing the local language is a lot to deal with. And Brian does great in school while also being able to go to this competition on the national level. It’s incredible.”
“I was so amazed by his achievement, and I felt it’s a great opportunity to recognize a young man,” said Legislator Pilip. “His family was very appreciative and happy. Even the legislators, my colleagues, were amazed and happy to honor him.”
On top of being a spelling bee quarterfinalist and an excellent student, Liu is also an accomplished violinist and has performed at Lincoln Center. According to Liu’s bio on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website, “Brian started playing the violin at age four. He enjoys learning new things, and his favorite subject is math. Brian also enjoys reading. He especially enjoys fantasy books, in particular the Harry Potter series. Brian enjoys many sports, including swimming and badminton, as well as hiking with his family.”
“Congratulations Brian, you have made Great Neck, and all of Long Island proud,” said Legislator Pilip.