Fourteen Waxahachie elementary students competed in the second annual districtwide Spanish Spelling Bee on Feb. 6.

Students from Dunaway and Wedgeworth Elementary both hosted campus spelling bees. The top nine students from each school then competed in the district championship.

The top three finalists were Iris Diaz, Alejandro Quintero, and Jaleny Sifuentes.

When Diaz spelled her last word, she anticipated the bell ring to signal a misspelling, but instead, there was silence. She expressed, “I thought I was about to lose, but I won.”

While hoisting the first place trophy in her hand and with a medal around her neck, she said, “I felt so happy that I was about to cry.”

Diaz’s fourth-grade teacher, Karen Duran at Dunaway, said, “She is a very hardworking student, very dedicated to her work and I’m just so proud of her.”

Duran also mentioned how she recently transferred to Waxahachie from Dallas ISD.

Ginger Aleman, Quintero’s fifth-grade teacher at Wedgeworth, congratulated him and said, “He is self-motivated and strives for perfection. The dedication he has to his work makes him a high achiever because he is always willing to put forth the extra time or effort to be successful.”

She mentioned that Quintero is a member of the student council and was selected as a member of the peer mediation group at Wedgeworth, as well.

Eloisa Rodriguez, Sifuentes’ third-grade teacher at Dunaway, said, “She is a highly motivated, intelligent student. She takes initiative to help her peers and is a natural leader in class. She works well with others and is always eager to participate and learn.”

Another highlight of the competition was the Emmy Award-winning announcer, Miguelangel Pinero, who is a midday anchor for Univision in Dallas. Panel judges included a WISD teacher and guests from Casa Durango and the Dallas Zoo.

Last year, WISD was one of three districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to host a Spanish-only spelling competition.

Waxahachie ISD Bilingual and ESL Coordinator, Viana Armstrong, elaborated, stating “It’s a pretty low percentage considering how big DFW is. There are not many districts that offer bilingual education who have a Spanish spelling bee. So it’s a great opportunity for our kids.”

During the campus spelling bees, 29 students participated in Dunaway’s completion while 17 students competed in at Wedgeworth. Both Wedgeworth and Dunaway are dual-language elementary schools as well as the prekindergarten classes at Turner Elementary.

“Waxahachie ISD has implemented the Gómez & Gómez model of Dual Language Enrichment for the past six years,” Armstrong explained. “This program is based on a Gifted and Talented model that correlates language, content, and best practices in teaching.”

According to the Texas Academic Performance Report, eight percent of students in WISD are English Language Learners. At Dunaway Elementary, 32.8 percent of students are English Language Learners. Meanwhile, 30.5 percent are English Language Learners at Wedgeworth Elementary.

The schools started allowing monolingual students to opt-in to the program three years ago. Beginning March 1, parents of eligible Kindergartners for the 2018-19 school year will have the opportunity to apply for a limited number of spots in the dual language Kindergarten classrooms.

More information on this will be posted on the WISD bilingual and ESL webpage, as well as on all social media for the district.