Merced students are testing their spelling acumen this week at the Merced City School District's annual spelling bee.
Thirty-seven fifth-graders competed Tuesday and 40 sixth-graders tested their skills Wednesday at Tenaya Middle School. Today's round features 40 seventh-graders and the concluding competition Friday will involve 40 eighth-graders.
Annie Dossetti, the district's assistant superintendent for educational services, said fifth-grader David Chen of Peterson Elementary School won Tuesday's event, and sixth-grader Maryn Pryor of Hoover Middle School was the top speller Wednesday.
Dossetti said that for more than 20 years, the district's spelling bee has been written rather than oral. Spellers write down their answers, which isn't as intimidating as having to recite the word in front of an audience.
Proctors assigned to each table check the accuracy of the spelled words.
Judges list the spelling word, and competitors write down their answer in a folder. Competitors are allowed four misses. Dossetti said fifth-graders went through 60 to 70 words, and Wednesday's competition saw 70 words spelled.
"It's fun competition for the kids," Dossetti said. "The contestants make friendships. All schools sent representatives from their own spelling bees."
Winners receive a $20 gift card, with runners-up getting a $15 gift card and third-place finishers getting a $5 gift card. Money for the prizes was donated, Dossetti said.
Words covered at the spelling bee were listed on the district's website and on state lists for elementary and middle school levels.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.