Spanish speller moves on to state spelling bee

By Tony Parra

It started with eight students from the Portales School District, but quickly it dwindled down to two girls and Jessica Lavalle was able to correctly spell “volver” to win the district Spanish Spelling Bee.

Lavalle won on Feb. 24 and will be competing in Albuquerque in the New Mexico Spanish Spelling Bee contests against other New Mexico students. “Volver” means to turn or return.

“I’m so happy,” Lavalle said. Lavalle said she was nervous and that probably won’t change when she competes in Albuquerque. “I’m going to study a lot, probably two hours a day.”

Lavalle will be in front of many more people when she competes in the state Spanish Spelling Bee competition at 9:30 a.m. on April 8 in the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque.

Gabriel Chavez will also get the opportunity to compete in the state Spanish Spelling Bee after winning in the Floyd School District on Friday. Chavez, a seventh-grader, edged out seventh-grader Nallely Mendoza, runner-up, for first place.

Judy Hernandez, a sixth-grader from Lindsey Elementary finished in second place at Portales.

“I was just as nervous this year as I was last year,” Hernandez said. “Being in front of all of the people is the hardest.”

The school district Spanish Spelling Bee was held in the central office on Feb. 24. There were eight finalists in the district competition who advanced from their schools: Lavalle and Laura Lopez from the Portales Junior High; Hernandez and Ramon Araujo from Lindsey Middle School and Jennifer Salomon, Rocio Holguin, Rodrigo Navarette and Ricardo Rivas from Valencia Elementary.

“It takes a lot of courage to participate and a lot of time and effort,” Randy Fowler, superintendent of schools, said. “My congratulations to all of you.”