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First ever Spanish spelling bee tests local students’ knowledge

POSTED May 22, 2012 9:24 p.m.

Bilingual education reached new heights on Monday when students throughout the Central Valley competed at the First Annual Central Valley Dual Language Consortium at California State University, Stanislaus.  Dutcher Middle School, Walnut Grove, Hilmar, and Livingston Elementary were among the 14 schools, ranging from fourth through eighth graders, to compete for the top three places.

“A Spanish spelling bee has never been done before,” said Hilmar teacher and creator of the event, Jim Mendonca.  “This consortium would not have been possible without the help of parents in the Hilmar community in pushing this idea forward,” he said.

The 42 students competing were given a sheet of paper along with a series a words that progressively kept getting challenging.   They were given up to four chances to misspell a word. 

After two and a half hours of rigorous competition, Valerie Mercado from Harmony School took first place.

“I had so much fun during the competition.  I studied for many hours in order to prepare for the competition and I’m glad it paid off in the end,” she said. 


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