Three tries, two wins! Not bad for an elementary youngster who at the rate he’s going may soon need a bigger shelf for his trophies.
Enchanted Hills Elementary fifth grader Adrian de la Peña once again sits atop the City of Vision spelling world, as the repeat winner of the Rio Rancho Spelling Bee. He will represent Rio Rancho in the New Mexico State Spelling Bee along with runner-up Annarose Campa, a seventh grader from this year’s host school, Eagle Ridge Middle School. Lincoln Middle School seventh grader Kyla Gardner finished third and will be the alternate in case one of the top two spellers is unable to compete at state.
Spellers in the Rio Rancho Bee compete in three preliminary competition rounds and earn points for correct answers. This format gives all of the competing students the chance to show off their spelling and vocabulary skills in front of their parents and bee spectators several times before being eliminated. The top ten spellers and ties move on to compete in the finals.
Based on the point system, 14 of the 29 spellers moved on to the final rounds. Half the spellers missed their words in the fourth round and two more missed their fifth-round vocabulary words, leaving the stage to the final five: de la Peña, Campa, Gardner, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary fifth grader Auriana Rey, and Rio Rancho Middle School sixth grader Jeremiah Carter.
By the end of Round 6, it was down to the final two, as de la Pena and Campa correctly spelled “amicable” and “egalitarian,” and Gardner, Rey, and Carter fell out on “angstrom,” “kasha” (a Russian word for a kind of mush), and “gingham”. In a spell–off among these three, Gardner conquered “marzipan” to earn alternate honors.
De la Pena and Campa then took center stage to decide the championship. In Round 7, de la Pena correctly spelled “paradigm,” and Campa missed “sauerbraten.” This gave De La Pena a chance to win by correctly spelling his Round 8 word, “fatuous,” meaning “absurd.” Adrian admitted he’d never heard the word before, but there was nothing absurd about his spelling: he nailed it to take home the championship.
The Rio Rancho Bee includes two vocabulary rounds, one in the preliminaries and one in the finals. For the past couple of years the National Spelling Bee has strongly emphasized vocabulary in its competition in recognition of the fact that it is important for students to know what words mean as well as be able to spell them correctly. Vocabulary rounds are included in both the state and National Spelling Bee.
The New Mexico State Spelling Bee will be held on Saturday March 18 at 9 AM at Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque and will feature the best spellers from 22 of New Mexico’s 33 counties. The winner of the state bee competes in the 2017 National Spelling Bee, scheduled May 28-June 3 in National Harbor, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.).
Competitors from 16 schools participated in this year’s Rio Rancho bee, including students from all Rio Rancho Public Schools elementary and middle schools and from St. Thomas Aquinas school. All 29 participants received certificates and prizes.