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Friday, February 8, 2019

MISD Names 2019 District Spelling Bee Champion

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After two hours of meticulously spelling out a list of vocabulary words, the word “cordial,” followed by the sound of an elimination bell, left only one student standing.

Tiffany Lam, a seventh-grader at T.A. Howard Middle School, stepped forward to the microphone. Her heart started to beat rapidly when she knew she was only one word away from being the Mansfield ISD spelling bee champion.

“When he first said ‘amputation,’ I thought it was really easy, but I went slower just in case,” Lam recalled.

She spelled the word correctly, and the crowd cheered with excitement to welcome the new districtwide winner.

MISD hosted its annual spelling bee on Feb. 8 at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts. The contestants are students from third grade through eighth grade throughout the district who have won at their campus.

“Last year, I think we went 17 rounds. This year, we went 53 rounds. That’s the longest, I believe, in our history,” said Kristi Gonzales, MISD coordinator of elementary language arts. “So it’s pretty incredible to see the growth, and I think that’s attributed a lot to some of our explicit phonics instruction in the classroom.”
Beekman says she was more nervous than Lam during the bee.

Lam knew the feeling of being in the final round all too well. She was a runner-up in the district spelling bee last year; but this year, she felt confident that the trophy would be hers. She said her strategy for remembering the correct spelling was to write the word with her finger on her hand.

“It felt amazing because I’ve been going to the district spelling bee since fourth grade,” said Lam. “Now, that’s all paid off.”

Event organizers noted that being part of the competition is about more than simply spelling. Participants are able to increase their social skills as well.

“We’re asking them to get up on stage and spell publicly, which is helping them with their communication, and their public speaking skills and their building their self-confidence,” Gonzales continued.

This is the second consecutive year a student from T.A. Howard Middle School has placed first in the district spelling bee. Her teacher said it is a very proud moment.

“She’s absolutely a phenomenal kid,” said English teacher Lisa Beekman. “We just have some phenomenal spellers. They’re just phenomenal spellers out there. We’ve been blessed for two years in a row to collect those kids.”

Lam will participate in the 2019 Scripps Regional Spelling Bee on Thursday, March 7 at 8 a.m. The event will take place at Texas Christian University.