Junior Achievers —The top three Junior Division winners of Compton Unified School District’s (CUSD) 10th Annual Spelling Bee endured several rounds of grueling competition before securing their victories. Taking honors in the Junior Division are from left to right: Third Place, fifth-grader Jasmin Rivas, Laurel Elementary; Second Place, fifth-grader Yarely Marquez, Washington Elementary; and First Place, fourth-grader Lizbeth Herrera, Laurel Elementary. Herrera is also the first student ever to win back-to-back Spelling Bees. Last year she won First Place in the Primary Division competition.
Primary Champs — After several suspense-filled rounds, the top three Primary Division winners of Compton Unified School District’s (CUSD) 10th Annual Spelling Bee emerged victorious. The following students earned their spot as top spellers in this competition: From left to right are Third Place, third-grader Kimmya Spelmon, McKinley Elementary; First Place, second-grader Alexa Valdez, Dickison Elementary; and Second Place, third-grader Samantha Alcor, Lincoln
Last Spellers Standing — Following a long, hard-fought battle for championship glory, the top three Senior Division winners of Compton Unified School District’s (CUSD) 10th Annual Spelling Bee were finally able to clutch their trophies. From left to right: Second Place, eighth grader Rayshawn Thompson, Davis Middle School; First Place, seventh-grader Samisoni Palu, Davis Middle School; and Third Place, eighth-grader Shalewa Alabi, Enterprise Middle School.
Winners Include Competition’s First Back-to-Back Champion
Compton Unified School District’s (CUSD) 10th Annual Spelling Bee offered parents and community members plenty of thrills, Friday, January 25, including a repeat First Place performance by a fourth grade student.
The competition, held at Enterprise Middle School’s auditorium, 2600 W. Compton Blvd., from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. challenged over 150 contestants representing 30 district schools to spell words including “hydrolysis” “diphthong,” and “panacea.” Sponsored by CUSD’s Curriculum and Instruction, the competition was divided into three divisions based on grade level. The Primary Division included second- and third-graders, the Junior Division consisted of fourth- and fifth-graders and the Senior Division included sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
All contestants received honorary medals for their participation and Spelling Bee tshirts.
First, second and third place winners from each division received trophies. Primary Division winners included: First Place, Alexa Valdez, second grade, Dickison Elementary; Second Place, Samantha Alcor, third grade, Lincoln Elementary; and Third Place, Kimmya Spelmon, third grade, McKinley Elementary.
Taking honors in the Junior Division were: First Place, Lizbeth Herrera, fourth grade, Laurel Elementary; Second Place, Yarely Marquez, fifth grade, Washington Elementary; and Third Place, Jasmin Rivas, fifth grade, Laurel Elementary.
Capturing Senior Division awards were: First Place, Samisoni Palu, seventh grade,Davis Middle School; Second Place, Rayshawn Thompson, eighth grade, Davis Middle School; and Third Place, Shalewa Alabi, eighth grade, Enterprise Middle School.
Diana Phillips, English Language Arts specialist and Spelling Bee coordinator, said that the competition is always fierce and that this year was no exception. “These kids really work hard year after year. Once they get up there anything can happen, but they give it their best shot,” she said. “It’s also impressive to hear them demonstrate their mastery of difficult words that even adults may spell incorrectly. The overall goal of this competition is to motivate students to expand their vocabulary, which then strengthens their reading comprehension and writing skills.”
Junior Division winner Herrera won First Place for a second consecutive year, and she hopes to win a third next year as a fifth-grader. “It always feels great to represent my school. Last year I won First Place too, so it’s cool to win again,” she said. Herrera said she takes each Spelling Bee seriously and has developed a winning strategy. “I listen for the vowel sounds and double consonants before the vowel.” She added that just like last year her mother helped her practice ahead of the Spelling Bee and that she hopes to win First Place for a third time. “I can’t wait to compete next year. I hope I can win it again,” said Herrera, who also plans to study engineering at Yale. Although she is a twotime Spelling Bee champion, she said her true passion is math. “I really love math and I know engineering lets me do math, but I still love to compete.”
Senior Division champion Palu said his First Place win was long in the making. Three years ago he won Second Place in the Junior Division competition. “It feels really good to win this time. It took a lot of practice,” he said. “I competed when I was in second, fourth, and fifth grade. The only time I ever got really far was in fourth grade.” Palu added that he knew he was up against talented spellers. “I thought the eighth-graders would know every word because they have more experience.” He added that his family and teacher deserve credit for his victory. “My brothers and sisters helped me practice my words, and my teacher Ms. Brewer too. My parents also encouraged me a lot.”
Primary Division titlist Alexa Valdez offered advice to aspiring Spelling Bee winners shortly after receiving her trophy. “You need to practice a lot and try your best. I know everyone here did a good job today. Everyone did the best they could,” she said. Valdez added that she also isn’t a stranger to victory. “Last year I won First Place in my school’s Spelling Bee, so I knew I could come here and win,” she noted. “I was relieved to win because I was afraid I got one of the last words wrong in the final round, so I was so happy when I learned that I got it right.”