By Sally Marks
What does the word “ventilate” mean? To Nicholas McCracken, a fifth grader from Desert Vista Elementary School, “ventilate” spelled victory at the Apache Junction Unified School District Spelling Bee on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in the AJHS Performing Arts Center, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive in Apache Junction.
Nicholas competed with fellow students from DVES, as well as Four Peaks and Peralta Trail Elementary Schools and Cactus Canyon Jr. High, and walked off the stage with the first place trophy. Penelope Mutanga, a sixth grader from FPES, came in second. Brennen Medley, a sixth-grader from PTES and Reygan Fraser, a fourth-grader, also from PTES, placed third and fourth.
“Spelling bees are more than a fun way for students to increase their vocabulary,” said Robyn Gonzales, program coordinator. “This type of competition can help a child develop a wide range of cognitive and life skills, including the ability to perform under pressure, enhance their public speaking abilities, accept their mistakes, as well as develop an appreciation for words and their meaning.”
Prior to the District Spelling Bee, the top five spellers and one alternate from each school competed at the school site. The competitors consisted of:
Conor Wirries, Payton Elizondo, Simote Teumohenga, Nicholas McCracken, Hailey Butel and alternate Anna Brownlee.
Penelope Mutanga, Timmy Wright, Jimmy Alamillo, James Rispoli, Gavin Crary and alternate Xavier Mix.
Luke Coburn, Alexander Jacobs, Brennen Medley, Reygan Fraser, Leena Cano and alternate Donald Brigham.
Cactus Canyon Jr. High
Jacob Glazener, Diana Huerta, Damon Baum, Hayden Pride, Allivia McAdam and alternate Olivia Scalmato.
Nicholas, Penelope and Brennen advance to the Pinal County Spelling Bee in Casa Grande on Feb. 16. Reygan is an alternate.
Photo above: AJUSD Districtwide Spelling Bee Winners (L-R): Nicholas McCracker, 1st place, Penelope Mutanga, 2nd place; Brennen Medley, 3rd place; Reygan Fraser, 4th place