The 2019 Collier County School District-Wide Middle School Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Optimist Club of Naples, was held at the Collier County Schools Martin Luther King, Jr. Administration Center Board Room on March 19th at 6:00 pm. The competition began with 45 spellers from 15 Collier County middle schools and one home-schooled student. The competition was telecast LIVE on Comcast Channel 99 and will be posted on the CCPS Website by March 29th, in case you want to try the words yourselves.
The top three spellers at the end of *37* rounds were:
- Bharath Ram – Champion – Oakridge Middle School for the second year in a row (Bharath was also the Champion of the 2018 Spelling Bee).
- Eliana Kut – 1st runner up – Christian Home Educator’s Association of Collier County (CHEACC).
- Emma Rodriguez – 2nd runner up – North Naples Middle School.
The awards were presented by John Dina, President of the Optimist Club of Naples, which sponsored this year’s competition. The 2019 Collier County Spelling Bee Champion receives a copy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, donated by Merriam-Webster and an expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Spelling Bee thanks to the generosity of the Optimist Club of Naples.
Leanne Zinser, Supervisor, CCPS Communications and Master of Ceremonies, did a countdown for the contestants and audience to signal the official start of the LIVE TV broadcast/recording at 6:00 and the excited tension quieted. She introduced the judges, Larry Hurst, Mason Clark and Amity Wyss and reviewed the official Spelling Bee procedures for all to understand. Dana Tracy, Coordinator, Literacy Programs 6-12, was recognized as the Spelling Bee Coordinator, along with Paul Holimon, Literacy Specialist at Lorenzo Walker Technical College, the official pronouncer who offered definitions and word origins when requested by the competitors.
The competition began with two vocabulary rounds for all contestants. Paul Holimon introduced a word and gave two definitions. The contestant had to choose the correct answer to move on to the next round. As with most competitions, the definitions and word spellings become more challenging as the Spelling Bee continues. Most of the participant schools held school-wide competitions before a finalist was chosen for the County Wide competition so you can just imagine the caliber of the students.
The next rounds were the spelling rounds, which started with the “easier” words and moved on to some words with trickier spellings. It was frustrating to see a great speller eliminated by missing one letter in a word, but that’s the way the hole whole process alliminates eliminates competitors. I tried writing the words as they were given and, more than once, looked at my word askance and thought about a remedial spelling class.
Tension mounted as the rounds continued. Sighs of frustration from contestants, parents, teachers and supporters are quietly heard. Tears are dried and determined faces show competitive spirit to come back next year and WIN. “I should have studied harder,” was heard more than once, but that’s what it’s all about; learn from your attempts, don’t give up and do a better job next time.
Sixth grade contestants and their middle schools include: Isabella Lala (Oakridge), Chrislyn Owens (Immokalee), Isabella Martinez (Cypress Palm), Hannah Gilmore (East Naples), Colton Rosenbach (Corkscrew), Morgan Turner (Cypress Palm), Elizabeth Hobbs (Marco Charter), Declan Murphy (Royal Palm Academy), Eliana Kut (Christian Home Educators Assoc.), Elizabeth Burke, (Donohue Academy), Adam Mosely (Corkscrew), Paige Louis (Manatee), Ny’Aizha White (Mason Academy), Julian Miller (Community School), Owen Mick (East Naples), Gena Collins (Everglades), Lili Schummer (Royal Palm Academy), Jack Hewitt (Marco Charter).
Seventh grade contestants and their middle schools include: Charles Boland (Pine Ridge), Jamesly Malande (Manatee), Jose Gonzalez (Immokalee), Tiana Vachara (North Naples), Cody Long (Pine Ridge), Gina Altamora (Oakridge), David Galdamez (Gulfview), AJ Hobbs (Marco Charter), Matthew Clark (Corkscrew), Sophia Cadavid (North Naples), Mary Fairchild (Donahue Academy), Sonia Patel (Community School), Mike Etienne (Gulfview), Catherine Baler (Royal Palm Academy), Katie Collins (Everglades).
Eighth grade contestants and their middle schools include: Ryana Papayoute (Cypress Palm), Asia Denis (Manatee). Nathalie Steer (Mason Academy), Bharath Ram (Oakridge), Sarah Patel (Community School), Emma Rodriguez (North Naples), Andrew Graham (Donahue Academy), Dulce Sanchez (Immokalee), Gianna Dix (Mason Academy), Julian Miller (Community School), Alexis Bennett (East Naples), Emily Duenas (Gulfview).
School Coordinators for this academic middle school event were: Aimee Line (Christian Home Educators), Cecelia Beagle (Community School of Naples), Yolande Ramsay-Sinclair (Corkscrew Middle), Teri Sweigart (Cypress Palm Middle), Lisa Rochefort (Donahue Academy at Ave Maria), Sara Ross (East Naples Middle), Shana Secory (Everglades City School), Elizabeth Brown (Gulfview Middle), Kaily Simpson (Immokaledd Middle School), Kerri Holdsworth (Marco Charter Middle School), Fedor Steer (Mason Classical Academy), Jennifer Lazar (North Naples Middle), Eleanor Morse (Oakridge Middle), Judy Cosco (Pine Ridge Middle) and Jennifer Wojcik (Royal Palm Academy).