Sixth-grader prepares for Spanish spelling bee

By Tony Parra

A Lindsey Elementary sixth-grader will be making a trip to Albuquerque on Saturday to compete against the best spellers in the state of New Mexico.
Laura Lopez, Lindsey sixth-grader, will be competing at the Spanish state spelling bee on Saturday morning. Registration is from 8:30 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. and the competition will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Lopez finished first out of all of the sixth-graders in early March and then she defeated seventh- and eighth-graders from the Portales Junior High later in March to advance to the state competition.
“I was nervous at the first one (competition), but I was even more nervous at the district competition,” Lopez said. “It’s going to be nice to go to Albuquerque, but at the same time I’m going to be nervous because of the competition. It’s going to be hard because I’ll be going up against kids that won their district.”
Dana Russ, Language and Arts teacher and English as a Second Language teacher at James Elementary, said Lopez moved to the district during the school year. Lopez speaks Spanish fluently and Russ said she is very advanced in speaking and writing Spanish.
“She does a great job of accent placement and it’s hard for them (Spanish spellers) because they’ve got to be able to differentiate between B and V to the judges when they are spelling,” Russ said. “She’s been phenomenal. She gave up her lunch and recess to practice her spelling.”
Lopez said her parents have been supportive of her. Russ said Lopez’s parents jumped at the chance to travel to Albuquerque to support their daughter.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had another set of parents who were more involved in their child’s education,” Russ said. “I’m beaming. I’m very proud of her. I’m very proud of our district for supporting the trip. They’re paying for hotel and travel expenses.”
Esequiel Rivas finished in second place in the district spelling bee contest and is the alternate. Russ said there is no national contest, but hopes there will be some day. Russ said New Mexico is the only state she has heard of that has a state Spanish spelling bee.
Russ said she has taught Lopez English and that Lopez is progressing well. Lopez said her parents speak Spanish at home.
“It’s hard to speak Spanish and speak English at the same time,” Lopez said. “My mom helps me practice at home. I like Mrs. Russ. She’s really good with me and has helped me a lot.”