Sisters place first and second in spelling bee

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CeFaan Kim reports from North Bergen.

This is a sibling rivalry taken to the next level.

Naomi Castellanos, 11, and her 10-year-old sister Zadie are both amazing spellers.

Naomi, a sixth grader, won her local spelling in February, qualifying to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The competition was stiff but not unfamiliar to the sixth grader.

Naomi beat out her very own little sister Zadie, who came in second.

"I was kind of sad that she didn't win, but I was still happy that I won," Naomi said.

Despite being comfortable with her direct competition, it was everyone she didn't know that made her nervous.

The sisters attend Franklin Elementary School in North Bergen, New Jersey.


For fourth grader Zadie, going up against her big sister was intimidating.

"It was pretty scary. I knew I was competing against her," Zadie said.

The spelling stars weren't the only ones with the jitters, their mom was just as nervous.

"What is going to happen if my little one beats the oldest? What is going to happen if my oldest breaks my little ones feelings? But it didn't happen. They were both very supportive," said Tammy Castellanos, the girls' mother.

On the other hand, their dad saw the competition as a win-win no matter who actually won.

"One of them is going to take the trophy home. One of them is going to do it," said Ariel Castellanos, the girls' father.


With a love for spelling and studying at least three hours a day, it's not far-fetched to assume both sisters are walking away with a win.

While most of us rely on spellcheck and auto-correct, Naomi and her sister rely on word origins.

"There's Greek rules and Greek roots at the bottom. Then here is German. Then we have Italian right here. Then here is French, I'm still not done with that one," Naomi said.

As Naomi prepares to head to National Harbor, Maryland, to compete in the national spelling bee, little sister Zadie is already thinking ahead as she prepares to turn her silver into gold in 2018.

"In the future I'll need this knowledge, so why not know it now?" Zadie said.

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Related Topics:
educationscripps national spelling beespelling beeNew Jersey
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