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'Cool cucumbers' take part in school's bee

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By Don Pace

The words became more difficult as the spelling bee progressed at Paul D. Elementary School last week. And the younger kids began to drop out.

But third-grader Austen King finished in the top three and stood with fifth-graders A.J Larrañaga and Connor Houdek, who won took first and second places respectively.

In all spelling bees, there are lessons learned even when kids misspell a word. For example, one of the younger children spelled “honest,” O-N-E-S-T, which makes perfect phonetic sense, and was a lesson in silent consonants and vowels. 

Pronouncer Barbara Perea-Casey said, “I love doing these spelling bees because I see the achievement the students make on a yearly basis. It’s fun to be part of their enthusiasm, motivation, and see how hard they work to prepare. We had some really cool cucumbers that came up and did a really good job.” 

Larrañaga, the spelling bee winner, said, “I feel like I’m on top of the world. I was really, really nervous at first, but this is just great. I was expecting Connor (Houdek) to win.”

Houdek said he was just happy to be a finalist.

 “I had a lot of fun doing this, and I’m glad I’m moving on to the next stage of competition.”

Third-place finisher King said, “I’m only the second third-grader to move on to the district spelling bee, so it’s really great.”

Sponsor Joe Wickert said the next spelling bee will be Wednesday at Memorial Middle School, and finalists there will then go to the state bee in March.