Students from Anderson Elementary and Wells Middle School took home top honors Saturday in the district’s annual Spanish Language Spelling Bee.
The event welcomed students from 12 elementary and four middle schools in front of an enthusiastic audience made up of families, school personnel and volunteers who helped with the event. Winning first place among elementary students was Luis Ayala, and the middle school winner was Rebece Santiesteban.
The Spelling Bee included two categories: fourth- and fifth-grades and sixth- through eighth-grade students. One student from each participating elementary and middle school campus was selected during campus competitions to advance to the districtwide spelling bee.
The event also featured guest speaker Dr. Sandra Mercuri, who spoke on the advantage of being bilingual in today’s globalized world. She finished her speech with a reading of the poem “Bilingüe” by Alma Flor Ada.
Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, the district’s chief of school leadership and student support services, said the Spanish Language Spelling Bee is a way to celebrate student achievement.
“We are doing two things, not only validating their native language but celebrating their bilingualism, which ultimately has a huge impact in their future, as far as opportunity not only in school but in their careers and a huge impact on our community,” Hinojosa said. “I’m honored to have our kids competing at this level.”
Coordinated by the Spring ISD Multilingual Department under the direction of Lettie Houck, the spelling bee followed rules that are closely aligned to those of the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a few exceptions, which included using the Spanish alphabet and commonly used accents.
All the words came from the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, better known as the Real Academia de la Lengua Española. Although this makes the spelling of words more rich and complex in Spanish, it does require students to articulate the linguistic and phonetic components of words they need to spell.
“This event gives students an opportunity to learn and apply new vocabulary, increase speaking skills, develop better language pronunciation and improve communication abilities,” said Kathy Heinze, the district’s elementary multilingual coordinator.
Each of the following district-level winners were awarded a trophy and a certificate for their accomplishment.
- Luis Ayala, First, Anderson Elementary
- Yemilly Cerillo, Second, Northgate Crossing
- Amy Calix, Third, Bammel Elementary
- Rebece Santiesteban, First, Wells Middle School
- Jared Garcia, Second, Twin Creeks Middle School
- Nelson Lazo, Third, Roberson Middle School