Forest Good wins LL spelling bee

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Plagiarism, vestigial, neticate, a word meaning the rules of Internet conduct, — these were some of the words used in the Los Lunas Schools spelling bee last Thursday, which is part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Forest Good, a sixth-grader at Katherine Gallegos Elementary, won first place with the word “crucible.” Second place went to Valencia Elementary sixth-grader Julia Aragon, and Dylan Lassard, a Valencia Middle School eighth-grader, placed third.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: The top three spellers at the Los Lunas Schools Spelling Bee are, from left, first-place winner Forest Good, Julia Aragon, second place; and Dylan Lassard, third place.

This is the second year Lassard took third place in the district spelling bee.

The 30 spelling bee contestants sat in anticipation, knees bouncing with nerves.

Michelle Gammill, the district spelling bee coordinator, asked the children to stand and stretch to ease the tension. She is a language arts teacher and the spelling bee word pronouncer.

Students were encouraged to ask as many questions about the words as they needed because the rules state that as soon as a letter is vocalized, it is part of the spelling and cannot be retracted.

Questions include alternate pronunciations of the word, origin of the word, definition of the word or requests to use the word in a sentence.

The latter is probably one of the most important questions because words, such as close and clothes, have the same sound but mean two different things.

“My Mom and Dad helped me study by telling me the words,” said Good. “A lot of times, whenever I look over the words to study them, I don’t have the right pronunciation, so I like to have them read it out loud, so I have the right pronunciation.”

Each student had their own special trick to help them remember the spelling of the words on the list.

The list is provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee program.

“Some of the origins have different spellings,” Good said. “Some don’t have Fs, so I should use P-H instead of Fs some times, or C instead of K some times,” Good said.

Some of the words asked of students to spell included nucleolus and entablature.

“Even as an adult, those words were scary because of the vocabulary,” said Michel Darrah, a Valencia Elementary sixth-grade teacher.

Gammill thought they were hard, too, but ironically, the words became easier after the fifth round. Gammill had to take a small break to look through the list to find comparable words, or the spelling bee would go on for hours, she said.

Breaking the words down to their syllables and sounding them out is Julia Aragon’s strategy in the bee, and Dylan Lassard said he uses the Internet.

“I some times look (the words) up online to hear how they’re pronounced,” said Lassard. “I look at the spelling tips on the list — it tells you some, like, for German words, there’s mostly Ks instead of Cs. Spanish words, there’s mostly Os at the end of the words. That’s what helps me out.”

The judges were Ruth Poiles, Carlene Robb and Rebecka Gammill. They quietly discussed the misspelled words before ringing the bell.

Their role is to uphold the rules, and they have the final decision on appeals.

In the first round, avant was misspelled, and the words panoche and abstruse, among others, wiped out half of the competitors.

Round two culled the top 10 spellers, who will go on to compete at the county level.

They include Yasemin Emami, of Valencia Middle School; Aubriana Borja of Sundance Elemetary; Toni Martinez, of Valencia Elementary; John Becker, of Los Lunas Elementary; Cruz Dimas, of Tomé Elementary; Angelique Londos and Daniel Selph, of Los Lunas Middle School.

The Valencia County Spelling Bee will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Belen High School.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.