by Guy Fong
The concentration and fortitude of each Madera Spelling Bee participant would make even our Olympic athletes going to Rio this summer envious. Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Michael Phelps have nothing on these spelling competitors as each of the 21 students gave every ounce of effort and determination they could muster in the 5th Annual Madera Elementary School Spelling Bee. The competition certainly lived up to the hype leaving the audience highly entertained as evidenced by the raucous applause and constant “oohs” and “aahs.” Temporarily coming out of retirement to emcee the event, highly admired former fifth grade teacher Eric Danysh handled the event with aplomb as he expertly calmed the anxious spellers, uneasy parents and boisterous, but supportive student audience who both moaned and cheered as Madera’s best spellers competed for the gold, silver and bronze.
After 15 rounds of nerve racking action, sixth grader Jenna Walker stood atop the podium in first place in this year’s contest. Jenna successfully spelled “paramount” during the penultimate round and secured her win by correctly spelling “judicial.” Also turning in an Olympic worthy effort was Abigail Manila, a fifth grader who has become a fixture on the podium, finishing third last year and a very close second place this year. Sixth grader, Justin Takano, in his final appearance in the Madera Bee, demonstrated his spelling prowess with a very strong third place performance. Jenna moves on to the West Contra Costa District Spelling Bee which will match the best spellers district-wide while also serving as the stepping stone to the Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition.
Reaching the Madera Spelling Bee finals was no easy task, as each participant had to win their respective classroom spelling bee just to qualify for the school-wide competition. All competitors were charged with the task of studying hundreds of difficult words in preparation, such as, “pulchritude,” “eleemosynary,” and “smorgasbord,” to name just a few. Only after qualifying as one of the top three spellers in their respective classes did the participants earn the opportunity to stand on stage before hundreds of supportive onlookers and attempt to spell very challenging words correctly. A well-deserved congratulations to all of this year’s Bee participants for a job well done, and let’s lend our support to Jenna as she moves on to the District Bee.