Fourteen to compete in county bee

By Betty Williamson: Special to the PNT

Fourteen students from area schools will compete at Eastern New Mexico University on Saturday, Jan. 31, in the annual Roosevelt County Spelling Bee.

The competition for junior division spellers, those in grades five and lower, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Becky Sharp Auditorium in ENMU’s College of Business, said Betty Williamson, director of the bee.

Senior spellers, those in grades six through eight as well as younger spellers who elect to join this division, will compete immediately after the junior division, Williamson said. The senior winner will receive a $500 scholarship to be held on account at ENMU, and will advance to the New Mexico State Spelling Bee, which will be held in Albuquerque in March.

ENMU is hosting a reception for the spellers, their families and their teachers beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the foyer outside of the Becky Sharp Auditorium.

“Our county bee has been switched around several times in the last few years,” Williamson said. “For many years our spellers went from here to the regional bee in Amarillo, then for a period of time eastern New Mexico had its own regional bee.”

That small east-side region was dismantled last year, Williamson said, so last year’s county champion went to Amarillo again. “But this year, the National Bee officials have changed the regions around once again and, for the first time that I know of, New Mexico will have an actual state bee.”

The national bee also initiated a $99 participation fee for each school last year.

“Most of our county schools participated last year, in spite of the fee, but this year, two schools — Dora and Faith Triumphant —decided not to participate,” Williamson said

The Roosevelt County Spelling Bee is open to the public, and Williamson encourages everyone to come out to ENMU for the event.

Junior spellers expected to compete include:

• Jacob Aguirre, 9, fourth grade, junior division runner-up at Elida Elementary School, son of Leslie and Joe Neal Foster and Richard Aguirre;

• Gabby Banister, 9, fourth grade, junior division champion at Floyd Elementary School, daughter of Ronald and Vicki Banister;

• Christopher Leap, 10, fourth grade, junior division runner-up at Valencia Elementary School, son of Kenneth Leap and Regina Aragon;

• Haley Nickels, 10, fifth grade, junior division champion at Elida Elementary School, daughter of Monte and Michelle Nickels;

• Brittany Santibanez, 10, fourth grade, junior division champion at Valencia Elementary School, daughter of Raul and Lorena Santibanez; and

• Falon Yamron, 10, fifth grade, junior division runner-up at Floyd Elementary School, daughter of Angela Partin.

Students competing for the senior division title include:

• David Abarca, 13, eighth grade, senior division runner-up at Floyd Middle School, son of David and Lupe Abarca;

• Hannah Christensen, 14, eighth grade, senior division champion at Portales Junior High School, daughter of Chris and Heather Christensen;

• Thurston Herrera, 13, eighth grade, senior division champion at Floyd Middle School, son of Katherine Lucero;

• Britt’ny Mowell, 14, eighth grade, senior division runner-up at Elida Schools, daughter of Phyllis Roberts;

• Anabel Muniz, 14, eighth grade, senior division champion at Elida Schools, daughter of Carmen Muniz;

• Mathew Sanchez, 11, sixth grade, senior division champion at Lindsey Middle School, son of Mark and Lisa Sanchez;

• Bailey Thompson-Garcia, 13, seventh grade, senior division runner-up at Portales Junior High School, son of Marea and Franklin Smith; and

• Rebecca Waller, 12, sixth grade, senior division runner-up at Lindsey Middle School, daughter of Brad and Gayle Waller.