HOUSTON – Feb. 8, 2019 – Nearly thirty students took the stage at the Dekaney High School Star Theater, each hoping that they would be the last one standing at the 2019 Spring ISD District Spelling Bee. At the end, it was Gabriella Sucacin from Twin Creeks Middle School who correctly spelled “quesadilla” to take top honors for the second year in a row, as Camila Santisteban from Winship Elementary won the alternate spot.
Jessica Jackson, an elementary literacy specialist at Spring ISD, presented the two with trophies and balloons, called for an additional round of applause for the champion and alternate, and invited their families up to the stage to photograph the achievement.
For Sucacin, the excitement of a first place finish is not a new experience. The tall trophy that she carried off the stage will match the one that she earned as the champion at last year’s district bee.
Sucacin said that the last word was an easy one for her, but it’s stressful when she gets a word that is less familiar. That’s when she and many of her competitors ask the moderator for additional information, such as the part of speech, the definition, or the language of origin.
“It all depends on the language really, and so if I know what the language is, then it really helps,” said Sucacin.
The students, challenged with words like “alderman”, “hypothesis”, “wikiwiki” and “polymer”, carefully spelled out the letters into the stage microphone – sometimes sighing with relief at hearing the moderator say, “Correct.”
“It took me awhile to understand some of the words,” said Santisteban, a fifth-grader at Winship Elementary, adding, “They are really high-level.” Despite the challenging words, Santisteban survived a dozen rounds to take the second place spot.
This is the fourth year for Spring ISD’s spelling bee. The students who competed on the stage were champions or alternates from individual school campus competitions. Jessica Jackson complimented the staff members across the district who put in the extra work to make it all happen every year. She said it’s all a part of the district’s strategic plan and it’s focus on literacy.
“We want to make sure that they not only do well in school, but that they are prepared academically for life. The spelling bee really does help with that,” said Jackson.
Sucacin and Santisteban will go to the regional Houston Public Media Spelling bee, where last year’s winning word was oxyacetylene. The two top competitors from that contest will proceed to the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, in National Harbor, Maryland during the week of May 27.