UPPER MONTCLAIR, NJ — With the word “January,” Holy Trinity School fifth grader Esme McLaughlin won first place in the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs Liberty District Spelling Bee Saturday morning.

Katie Purse, a fifth grader at Jefferson Elementary School, and Douglas Gee, a fourth grader from McKinley Elementary School, had also qualified to participate in Saturday's intense 25-round competition. All three Westfield students were sponsored by the Junior Woman’s Club of Westfield.

Along with second place winner Stella Lemkau from Lincoln Hubbard School of Summit and third place winner John Lydeker from Franklin School of North Arlington, McLaughlin will go on to the state spelling bee in New Brunswick on March 3.