The stage was backlit red, with a long row of numbered chairs lined up, 20 in all. Right at the edge of the stage — just behind a lone microphone, chair next to it with a small dry erase board and eraser on top — stood Victor Alexander Diaz, from Bammel Elementary.
One by one, the other 4th- and 5th-grade students seated on that row of chairs had dwindled down, until the last round and the final word for Victor to spell: pabellón.
After a few moments of thought and a quick scribble on the small dry erase board, Victor spelled the word correctly and, amid the cheers of his friends and family and other audience members, won the Spring ISD Elementary Spanish Spelling Bee.
“At first I was a bit nervous because I knew a lot of people were going to come today,” Diaz said. “When I saw all my friends I gained courage and my fear went away.”
He credited his teacher, the Bilingual/ESL Instructor at Bammel Elementary Susy Solano, with her help for getting him prepared for the contest, which he said he studied for an hour at school and an hour at home for the last week.
Another student, Juan Sandoval Castro, won the secondary school portion of the spelling bee, which saw 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students from across the district competing.
“I felt nervous and happy,” Castro, who attends Wells Middle School, said. “But above all, nervous. I got the paper with the words. And then I studied, read, and memorized the words.”
Castro’s winning word was garabato.
Individual campuses across the district host Spanish spelling bees for their students. A finalist and an alternate — from 4th and 5th grade for the elementary spelling bee, and 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders for the secondary spelling bee — are selected to attend the district spelling bee. The winners from this spelling bee could possibly go on to compete at the National Spanish Spelling Bee, to be held in El Paso this summer.
The Spring ISD Multilingual Department hosts the event, and for Multilingual Programs Director Lettie Houck.
“I think this event is really important because we have a large majority of Hispanic families that attend Spring ISD,” Houck said. “We are a very diverse district. We need to honor that home language. Doing these types of activities and events really tells our community that we are here to serve every child that attends Spring ISD.”
Students who competed in the Secondary School Spelling Bee:
- Jareth Avila, Roberson Middle School
- Cesar Cacique, Claughton Middle School
- Diego Lopez Garcia, School for International Studies at Bammel
- Sallely Martiez Portillo, Spring Leadership Academy
- Melany Mejia, Twin Creeks Middle School
- Juan Sandoval Castro, Wells Middle School
Students who competed in the Elementary School Spelling Bee:
- Victor Alexander Diaz, Bammel Elementary
- Dylan Bonilla, Hirsch Elementary
- Angely Fuentes, Northgate Crossing Elementary
- Jeremiah Garcia, Eickenroht Elementary
- Génesis Guerra, Anderson Elementary
- Emily Guizar, Smith Elementary
- Delmi Martinez, Major Elementary
- Diogenes Martinez, Beneke Elementary
- Luis Modesto, Link Elementary
- Thiago Montero, Jenkins Elementary
- Walter Ramirez, Marshall Elementary
- Kaylee Santos, Cooper Elementary
- Nathan Vargas, Burchett Elementary
- Kaylinn Villarreal, Booker Elementary