Students from Merced County’s Westside placed first in both the elementary and junior high school Merced County Spelling Bees. This is the second year in a row Westside students took first place in both divisions.
The spelling bee was held at the Atwater Community Center on Dec. 3 for fourth, fifth and sixth grades, and at the Merced County Office of Education on Dec. 4 for the seventh and eighth grades.
Jasmine Judge, fifth-grader at R.M. Miano Elementary School, took first place. Carlos Magana, sixth-grader at Henry Miller Elementary School, took second place. Anmol Kaur, an eighth-grader at Los Banos Junior High, took home first place at the junior high level.
“These are the best of the best,” said Sergio de Alba, teacher and spelling coach at R.M. Miano. Students have been studying non-stop since September during recess and after school, he said. “These kids are very dedicated,” he said. “It’s nice to see them succeed because they worked so hard.”
Jasmine Judge and her cousin, Nishika Judge, who placed fifth at the elementary school level, even studied over the Thanksgiving break. De Alba said the parents are very involved in helping the students succeed and are just as dedicated as the students.
“We’re so proud of them,” said Simran Judge, mother to Jasmine Judge and aunt of Nishika Judge.
“Excited” was the word Jasmine Judge used to describe her win.
Around 80 elementary school students and 25 junior high students competed for the title of the county’s top speller.
Carlos Magana said he had been studying since October. “Happy” and “excited” are the words Magana used to describe how he felt after he won.
“This is my second time going to the spelling bee,” he said, “and I won in second place.”
According to the Merced County Office of Education, the last word given at the elementary level was “Irreparable,” and “Vicissitude” was the final word for the junior high level.
Barbara Cole, beginning teacher support and assistance coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education, was the word master for the elementary spelling bee, and Michelle Symes, state and federal programs coordinator, was the word master for the junior high competition.
Words and definitions were given to students before they spelled each word.