Elm 7th Grader Takes Runner-Up Honors in 2022 District Spelling Bee

Elmwood student wins District Spelling Bee

After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the District 401 Spelling Bee returned this year stronger than ever! The 2022 contest took place Feb. 10 at Elmwood Elementary School. Congratulations to all who participated! (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)

PHOTO GALLERY: Use this link to visit our photo gallery of the 2022 Spelling Bee!

It took 45 rounds and almost two hours of competition, but Elmwood Park has a new spelling champion.

Erhan Mulvihill, a 4th grader at Elmwood Elementary School, won the 2022 Elmwood Park District 401 Spelling Bee on Thursday, Feb. 10, after successfully spelling "conflict."

The contest, which took place at Elmwood in the school gym before an audience of parents, friends and community members, featured 19 of the best spellers from the District's middle school and two elementary schools.

Mel Rubio, an Elm Middle School 7th grader, finished as runner-up. Mel was also runner-up in 2020, when he was an Elmwood 5th grader.

The top finishers for John Mills Elementary School were 5th graders Lula Korntheuer and Alex Walls, who tied for eighth place.

The top five finishers overall were:

  1. Erhan Mulvihill (4th grade), Elmwood
  2. Mel Rubio (7th grade), Elm
  3. Sophie Nijmeh (4th grade), Elmwood
  4. Asher Feltman (5th grade), Elmwood
  5. Emilio Aguirre (4th grade) & Pooja Suresh (4th grade) (tied), Elmwood

The contestants were selected at their respective schools based on the results of preliminary qualifying tests. (Use this jump link to see a listing of all students who competed.) As District winner, Erhan received a trophy that will be housed at his school for the next year.

Mel Rubio competes in the 2022 District Spelling Bee

ABOVE: Elm 7th grader Mel Rubio placed second overall in this year's competition. Mel was also runner-up in the 2020 District Spelling Bee, when he was an Elmwood 5th grader. D401 photo by Dave Porreca (click image for larger view).

Erhan is the third consecutive Elmwood student and second consecutive 4th grader to be crowned District Spelling Bee champion. Kate Kondela, now a 6th grader at Elm, won the 2020 competition.

The 2020 contest was the last District Spelling Bee to be held before the COVID pandemic. Prior to COVID, the spelling bee took place during the school day, but this one was held after school, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and lasting until almost 7:30.

Nico Di Naso, now a 9th grader at Elmwood Park High School, won the 2019 event. Immediately prior to that, Andrew Ticao of John Mills won the title for three straight years. (Andrew is now an 10th grader at EPHS.)

Spelling Bee champion

ABOVE: Elmwood 4th grader Erhan Mulvihill displays the trophy he won as 2022 District Spelling Bee champion. EP Police Chief Frank Fagiano was on hand to present the trophy, which will be at Elmwood for the next year. D401 photo by Dave Porreca (click for larger view). 

The judges for this year’s contest were Elm Principal Ms. Ashley Groeneveld and John Mills Assistant Principal Ms. Natalia Gomez. The official pronouncer was John Mills Principal Mr. Frank Kuzniewski.

Guests included District 401 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Leah Gauthier and Elmwood Park Police Chief Mr. Frank Fagiano.

The event as a whole was coordinated by Elmwood Assistant Principal Ms. Stephanie Hagins and the coaches for their respective school teams: Ms. Annina Wanzung (Elmwood), Ms. Amy Fishman (John Mills) and Ms. Lauren Mastrianni (Elm)

The District-level contest was the beginning of a multi-stage selection process that will choose participants nationwide for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee, scheduled for June 1-2 in Washington, D.C.

As District 401's representative, Erhan will now advance to the West 40 Intermediate Service Center Scripps Spelling Bee, to be held March 7 at E. F. Lindop School in Broadview.

2022 District 401 Spelling Bee Competitors


  • Gregory Escobar-Rivera | 7th Grade
  • Elise Kanable | 6th Grade
  • Kate Kondela | 6th Grade
  • Jofred Nava | 7th Grade
  • Mel Rubio | 7th Grade
  • Vinnie Tripoli-Carpino | 7th Grade


  • Emilio Aguirre | 4th Grade
  • Asher Feltman | 5th Grade
  • Klarita Kouria | 5th Grade
  • Erhan Mulvihill | 4th Grade
  • Sophie Nijmeh | 4th Grade
  • Gabriel Shamie | 5th Grade
  • Pooja Suresh | 4th Grade


  • Rowan Custic | 5th Grade
  • Lula Korntheuer | 5th Grade
  • Sophie Lopez | 5th Grade
  • Christian Luquetta | 5th Grade
  • Santiago Vasquez | 5th Grade
  • Alex Walls | 5th Grade

Photos from the 2022 District Spelling Bee

For more photos, including pictures of each competitor, use this link to visit our photo gallery of this year's District Spelling Bee. D401 photos by Dave Porreca (click images for larger view).

Students wait for the spelling bee to begin.

Students wait for the spelling bee to begin

Kate Kondela competes at the 2022 District Spelling Bee.

Vinnie Tripoli competes in the 2022 District Spelling Bee.

Jofred Nava competes in the 2022 District Spelling Bee.

Elise Kanable competes.

Gregory Escobar-Rivera competes.

Trophy on stage

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