Children across the Tracy area are competing this month in two divisions — fourth through sixth grades and seventh through ninth grades — to demonstrate their linguistic skill at local spelling bees and win a seat at the county competition.
Jefferson School District was the first local school district to hold a local bee on Nov. 6. The competition took place in the Jefferson district board room, 1219 Whispering Wind Drive.
Sixth-graders Gilberto Diaz and Cadence Messier, both of Jefferson School, were the top winners in the elementary division. Eighth-graders Riley Masters of Hawkins School and Deana Doerre of Traina School won the middle school division.
All of the winners in the elementary division will have to compete in a Dec. 2 qualifier and be among the top 15 finishers to advance to the San Joaquin County Spelling Bee Championships on Dec. 4, a Friday.
Fifth-grader Celine Ha from Hirsch Elementary School, fourth-grader Victoria Rivera of Freiler School, fifth-grader Sarah Chhotani of South/West Park Elementary School and sixth-grader Joey Heath of Williams Middle School won in the elementary division and will represent Tracy Unified School District in the qualifier.
“I’m proud of myself,” Celine said after the competition. “I’ve been practicing for three weeks every day. I was really nervous, but the words were getting easier.”
Joey said he enjoyed going up against his classmates.
“I like competing and seeing how good I actually am,” he said.
The four TUSD bee winners in the middle school category — seventh-grader Jordan Manly of Williams, ninth-graders Julie Le Trinh and Fatima Iqbal of Kimball High School and eighth-grader Marielle Garcia of Kelly School — are automatically entered in the championship Dec. 6, along with all winners in the older division.
Marielle said it was her second time winning a seat at the county competition.
“I was nervous,” she said Friday. “I like spelling. I’m good at it. It’s harder at the county (level).”
TUSD spelling bee coordinator Rechelle Pearlman said she organized the district bee with Donna Boyd 10 years ago because they felt academically gifted students should be recognized each year just as athletes are recognized.
“It’s awesome,” Pearlman said. “A kid can spell ‘vernacular’ and get a trophy and get the recognition.”
This year, 700 to 800 students participated in spelling bees across the district, according to Perlman.
New Jerusalem School District will have its spelling bee at 10:20 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15, in the school gymnasium, 31400 S. Koster Road.
Banta Elementary School District does not participate in the spelling bee competition, according to district officials.
The San Joaquin County bee championships are Dec. 4 at the Wentworth Educational Services Center, 2707 Transworld Drive, in Stockton.
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