It was a battle of words Monday night as 100 students competed in the annual Del Norte County Spelling Bee held at Crescent Elk Middle School.
Students in second through eighth grade from eight local schools were placed in separate rooms according to grade level. A proctor would read off a word and contestants had 25 seconds to write it down. After four wrong spellings they were eliminated.
When the dust cleared, three first places were won by Joe Hamilton Elementary School students, two by Redwood and one each by Castle Rock and Mountain School.
Friday at Joe Hamilton School, some of the winners talked about their exploits.
One of them was Monique Camerena, 10, who took first place in the fifth-grade category. It was her fourth year competing.
“This is my first time that I won first place,” she said. “I practiced for a couple of hours every day. I got a lot of compliments from my parents and teachers.”
In a true test of friendship, Joe Hamilton third-graders Morgan Throop and Megan Levy, both 8, competed for the No. 1 spot, which came down to the word “decipher.”
“It was hard to go against Morgan ’cause she’s my best friend,” said Megan, who came in second.
“Yeah, especially ’cause we were sitting right next to each other,” said Morgan. “It was really good though, it was amazing. I didn’t even study.”
“Remember, your dad is going to read this,” admonished Megan.
Oops. So much for going off the record.
Here is a complete list of winners:
First Place: Kai Zendaejas, second grade, Joe Hamilton; Morgan Throop, third grade, Joe Hamilton; Eliana Romero, fourth grade, Castle Rock; Monique Camerena, fifth grade, Joe Hamilton; Weconah Stevenson, sixth grade, Redwood; Samantha Seymour, seventh grade, Redwood; Rory McCain, eighth grade, Mountain.
Second Place: Chia Lee, second grade, Joe Hamilton; Megan Levy, third grade, Joe Hamilton; Brian Baker, fourth grade, Mary Peacock; Elizabeth Ward, fifth grade, Mountain; Darius Day, sixth grade, Uncharted Shores; Keen Penkian, seventh grade, Crescent Elk; Spring Wilson, eighth grade, Redwood.
Third Place: Daniel Gonzales, second grade, Pine Grove; Sriya Joshi, third grade, Mary Peacock; Breanna Gragg, fourth grade, Mary Peacock; Lauren Galea, fifth grade, Redwood; Violet McCovey, sixth grade, Redwood; Steven Berry, seventh grade, Redwood; Savannah Bollinger, eighth grade, Redwood.