WAXAHACHIE — Enhancing the dual language program to broaden opportunities for bilingual and Spanish-speaking students little by little is the goal of the WISD ESL and dual language program. Inching their way closer to making their dreams a reality, the dual language campuses at Dunaway and Wedgeworth Elementary hosted WISD's first-ever Spanish spelling bees for third through fifth graders.

The spelling bees took place over a two-day period and were organized by third-year WISD ESL and dual language coordinator, Viana Armstrong.

“I thought the events went well. We had a four-way tie with the third graders at Wedgeworth, but we already decided ahead of time that we would have a few from each grade level participate in our district-level competition against Dunaway on Jan. 10,” Armstrong explained.

Nine students from each campus qualified for the district meet and will compete at Global High School.

The first-place winner at Wedgeworth, dual language student, and Destination Imagination member Ramirez won the spelling bee on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

“As soon as I saw the paper my teacher passed out about the spelling bee I knew I wanted to do it. I like spelling, so I thought I might be good at it. I ended up winning at the practice, so I was confident about this,” Ramirez said.

She shared that she was nervous but managed to stay calm and collected throughout the competition.

“I could not believe I was winning. I noticed all of the other participants looked good, but I trusted myself that I could do it. Mrs. Armstrong and my teacher were very proud of me,” Ramirez stated.

Wedgeworth students who qualified for the district contests include first-place winner and fifth grader Daisy ‘Rubi’ Ramirez, fifth-graders Rodolfo Penaloza and Stephanie Luna, fourth-graders Juliana Gutierrez and Julissa Perez, and third-graders David Carmago, Daniel Mora, and Miguel Herrera.

Dunaway students that qualified for the district meet include the first-place fourth-grader Alejandro Rodriguez and fifth-grader Jose Sierra. Other participants included fifth-grader Jacqueline Ochoa, fourth-graders Esmeralda Martinez and Jorge Hernandez and third-graders Edwin Jacobo, Emily Perez and Brisa Yebra.

The spelling bee was a project Armstrong has worked on putting together for two semesters and has only taken place in two other districts in the Dallas-area.

“The students entering the program usually aren’t bilingual yet, or they just know some English. [...] It’s going well having the two dual-language campuses. I can see the program within each campus growing, but probably not to the extent just yet that we need another,” Armstrong said.

Spanish-speaking community members and educators who served as judges included Carmen Gomez from Navarro College, Andrea Amosson who is a writer, Melissa Hernandez from Mi Familia Vota and Maria Elena Ortiz and Luz Perez Vilchis from Casa Durango.

“I want to give special thanks to the judges as well as Felicitas Cadena for helping coordinate judges and pronouncers and Maria Galan at Dunaway and Ellen Green at Wedgeworth,” Armstrong stated.

The competitions pronouncers were Galan and Danny Luna, a D.J. from 107.9 and 107.1 FM.

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Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL

(469) 865-5488