Jeraldin Hernandez, an eighth-grader at West Las Vegas Middle School, is the district Spanish Spelling Bee champion and will compete in the state competition in Albuquerque.
The Concurso de Deletreo de Nuevo Mexico is sponsored by the state’s Association for Bilingual Education and will be held April 12 in Albuquerque at the Embassy Suites Hotel.
Hernandez, a native of Mexico, and Valley Elementary student Maricela Lopez were the only spellers standing after the first round of competition, but Hernandez finally won after spelling the word b-u-e-y, which means ox.
Valley Middle School student Brittany Gutierrez asked all the right questions to take the third-place trophy. She asked judges Annette Montoya, Angelo Archuleta and Martha Johnsen to use the word she selected in a sentence, but the judges couldn’t find the word in the dictionary and no one had ever heard the word before. Gutierrez handled her next word with ease.
The soft-spoken Hernandez said she was “really, really happy” and said she hoped to represent the district well at the state bee.
Spanish teachers Jim Quintana and Henry Lopez prepped Hernandez during the lunch hour and after school.
“She did a wonderful job, and we’re really proud of her,” Quintana said. He said he expects Hernandez to be well prepared for the state spelling bee as she has a couple of weeks to get ready.
Coordinator Janette Yara said Community First Bank donated savings bonds of $100, $75 and $50 to the top three placers.
“This isn’t an easy competition. There are a lot of things to consider when you’re spelling in Spanish — for example, the correct placement of accent marks,” Yara said.