BMS seventh-grader wins Spanish Bee

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It started with “actual” and ended with “aventajado.” And it was with a huge smile that Belen Middle School seventh-grader Aylin Contreras realized she had “outdone” her 41 competitors.

Out of a field of 42, Contreras advanced to the eighth and final round of the Belen Schools District Spanish Spelling Bee Tuesday morning, carefully and clearly spelling words such as indiscutible, regresar, siempre and autobiografia.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: Taking one last look at her word, Aylin Contreras spells “aventajado” to take first place in the Belen Schools District Spanish Spelling Bee Tuesday morning. Contreras, a seventh grader at Belen Middle School, will go on to the state Spanish Spelling Bee in April.

When asked for her winning secret, the seventh-grader was modest, saying she only studied a few days before the district spell-off.

“I study maybe three or four days,” Contreras said. “I wrote the words down about four times and just studied.”

Finishing just behind Contreras was Kimberly Dozal, a sixth-grader at La Merced Elementary. It was a battle to the finish between the two for the final four rounds.

Both struggled with “antibiótico,” forgetting the crucial “o con acento.” “Asociación” tripped up Dozal, but she came back with “audífono.”

In the next round, she missed “autobiografía,” allowing Contreras to clinch the win with “aventajado.”

Dozal said she dedicated a full week to studying, spending most of her time on the “hardest” words, the ones containing letters with accent marks. When spelling in Spanish, it’s a must to differentiate between an “n” and an “ñ” for instance, and say “ene” and “eñe.”

The third-place winner, Martiza Garcia, a fifth-grader from Rio Grande Elementary, said she wrote the vocabulary words over and over, then tested herself on her knowledge.

Writing the words was a key part of the competition as well. The spellers were allowed to use a small dry-erase board to write down their word, getting it just right before they began speaking.

And while they could restart a word if they needed to, they could not change the letters or order of the letters they had already spoken.

“We have a lot of great spellers in this district, in Spanish and English,” said Geneva Nixon, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.

The top 10 for the Belen Schools District Spanish Spelling Bee were, in order, Aylin Contreras, seventh grade, Belen Middle School; Kimberly Dozal, sixth grade, La Merced Elementary; Martiza Garcia, fifth grade, Rio Grande Elementary; Daniela Linares, eighth grade, Belen Middle School; Estrella Varela, sixth grade, La Promesa Elementary; Jasmin Jacob, sixth grade, Gil Sanchez Elementary; Martha Ortiz, fourth grade, Rio Grande Elementary; Evelyn Estrada, fifth grade, Gil Sanchez Elementary; Cesar Ortega, sixth grade, Dennis Chavez Elementary; and Jorge Dominguez, eighth grade, Belen Middle School.

The top 10 spellers will move on to the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education’s State Spanish Spelling Bee on April 12 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.


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