Mt. Nebo youth leave competition spellbound

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 20, 2015


It’s not a word Nayla Brown, David Hargrave or Neya Smith had to spell earlier this month at the annual Bible Spelling Bee of the Louisiana State Baptist Convention, but it is certainly what they achieved.

The three students — all part of the congregation at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church in LaPlace — won at the state level and will travel to Houston this summer as part of the organization’s regional competition.

Mt. Nebo Pastor Augustus G. Brown Jr. and his wife Aquiana Roussell Brown, who serves as the church’s youth director, said this is the fourth time Mt. Nebo has participated in the competition.

It’s also the fourth year they’ve been victorious.

Nayla won first place in Level I (grades 4-6), David won first place in Level II (grades 7-9) and Neya won second place in Level III (grades 10-12).

Neya, the daughter of Latrisha Spain and Hernandez Smith, credits her ability to study and retain the information so well to Jesus.

“It’s only Him,” the East St. John student said.

Aquiana said the spelling bee experience has been beneficial to the students, as they have gotten to travel to different states and meet new people.

“We’ve won the district and the state and the southwest regionals the last three years,” Augustus said, adding the competition keeps the students active with learning during the summer.

“It is a joy to work with them.”

Nayla, the daughter of Natalie and Dwayne Williams, attends LaPlace Elementary School and said participating in the competition made her feel better about herself.

All three of the winning students are involved in extra-curricular activities at their schools, where they also make exceptional grades.

David, the son of Paulette and David Hargrave, just finished his stint at Emily C. Watkins and will attend East St. John in the fall.

He was the ECW valedictorian, and he has placed in the top two in the competition for four straight years.

“One of the things extraordinary about the church is the pastors have gotten so involved,” Sister Rosie Weston-Hudson, director of the Young People’s Department of the Louisiana State Baptist Convention, said. “It takes a lot of work to win.”