This year’s bee, contested at Vista Grande Elementary, was the 26th in the district’s history and included, for the first time, spelling bee champions from The ASK Academy and Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education. A crowd of about 100, mostly parents and siblings of the contestants and school principals, were on hand for the nearly three-hour spelldown.
After the first three rounds, each scored for correct answers, the field was whittled down to 23 with the most points. Five rounds later, the field was down to its “final four”: Graciela, Gabriella Butler (Rio Rancho Elementary), Laurynn McKee (MVMS) and Sathya Martin (Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary).
All four missed their words in the ninth round, earning a reprieve into the next round, when only Graciela spelled her word (“echinacea,” an herb thought to have medicinal qualities) correctly, and then claimed the title by nailing “rhodium,” an elemental metal.