The spelling bee champions from Cleburne ISD’s elementary and middle schools will be among those competing Tuesday at the Area 24 contest taking place at 10 a.m. in the CISD Central Offices.
Cleburne’s elementary campus winners and alternates include Lydia Land, 5th grade-Adams, with fourth grader Adyson Lightner serving as an alternate. Coleman’s champion is Annabelle Boyer, 5th grade and Alternate, David Bottoms, 4th grade.
Competing for C.C. Cooke is Cianna Sanders, fifth grade, with Maya Eller as Alternate. Gerard’s winner is the third-grader, Loralai Rose, with fourth grader Delaney Watson as an alternate. As a second grader, Rose competed at the North Texas Reading Bee Championships as the CISD District Champion.
Irving’s top speller is Shaina Luciano, fifth grade, with fourth-grader Zoe Meland in the alternate position. Representing Marti will be the fifth-grader Mason Fowler, with a classmate—and cousin—Reagan Fenn serving as an alternate. Santa Fe’s champion is fourth-grader Angel Perez. David Salinas, fourth grade, is the alternate speller.
Middle school champions include Smith champion Jake Labo, a sixth grader, with Parker Murphy, eighth grade, as an alternate. Wheat’s spelling champion and alternate, Gavin Hagan and Janell Carrizales, are both in the seventh grade.
Two of the students at Tuesday’s contest are returning as champions for a second consecutive year. Land placed fourth at the 2018 spelling bee and says she chose then to do her best to compete again this year.
“Being champion again was a big goal,” Land said. “At last year’s spelling bee I tripped up on a letter in a word I knew. I was upset, but I knew I was going to try again this year. I was very happy for the girl who won—she was really sweet.”
Land has designated a portion of after-school time each day in preparing for the Area contest.
“I’ll go home, get out my spelling bee words and go over them,” she said. “I’ll record me saying the words and then my mom will go over them with me. I’ve definitely been practicing. I think spelling is one of my best things to do.”
“I’m excited, and nervous, about the contest,” Land said. “Whenever you get out, it’s disappointing, just like in anything you do. But I always know I’m going to have other chances.”
Labo is also competing at the “big Bee” again, after representing Coleman in 2018. He thought it might be a challenge to win at the middle school, going up against 7th and 8th graders.
“I thought it might be harder because of the older kids,” he said. “I really wanted to come back this year and try again. The spelling bee is exciting, stressful, fun—and kind of scary. Since I read a lot, I think it helps me learn to spell words better. My mom has also helped me. Every night she reads random words to me and I spell them.”
“I can’t wait for Tuesday,” Labo said. “I’m ready—and ready to get it over with.”
Belen Morgan, CISD English Language Arts and Reading coordinator, oversees the local spelling bee, working with Cleburne and neighboring school districts within Area 24. Spelling champions from Keene and Joshua schools will also be in attendance.
The winner of Tuesday’s spelling bee, sponsored by the Texas Christian University Department of Education, will continue on to the Scripps Regional event, taking place in early March. The Regional winner will compete at the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.
“It’s always exciting to watch as these students compete and we are cheering for all of them,” Morgan said. “Elementary spellers can definitely hold their own against those in the upper grades. It’s a huge achievement to be your school’s spelling bee winner and we try very hard to make each campus champion feel recognized and special. They’ve worked very hard to get to this point in the process.”
“I feel I have a chance of winning,” Land said. “But if I don’t, I’ll keep trying. You never know—I may win the next time. “
Photos: from top: Lydia Land-Adams; Annabelle Boyer-Coleman; Cianna Sanders-C.C. Cooke; Loralai Rose-Gerard; Shaina Luciano-Irving; Mason Fowler-Marti; Angel Perez-Santa Fe; Jake Labo-Smith Middle School; Gavin Hagan-Wheat Middle School.