Who said video games aren’t informative?
When Lincoln School students competed in their third annual Spelling Bee on Jan. 4, first prize winner Mellina Sihombing won thanks to word association and her experience with a video game called Scribblenauts.
Third place winner Hanya Hassan also proved that anything is possible, as she has only been in the U.S. for a few short years, and English is not her first language.
New school tradition
The Lincoln School Spelling Bee began after teacher Inaya Jaafar brought the idea to administrators three years ago. Jaafar’s idea was to have students exposed to new words.
“It’s good for the kids,” said judge Christopher Tetro. “They get to [do the spelling bee] in front of their peers, adults, and it’s good for the school’s culture.”
After the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy, the school raised $300 through pledges on the Great American SpellCheck from students’ family members. Principal Francis Pastore added $100 for a total of $400. The total will go towards the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
“[We’re] teaching children to give back to the community in times of need, which is a skill that goes beyond the classroom,” said Jaafar.
Classrooms had their individual bees, which resulted in two winners each. The 40 winners were all grouped together for schoolwide bee. In preparation for the bee, they were given a list of words provided from the Scripps National Spelling Bee website.
“I’m proud of myself because last year I won third place.” - Mellina Sihombing
“You see kids with different abilities working on one common goal,” said Jaafar.
To alleviate any stress, students were told what to expect and taken to the auditorium to practice being in front of the microphone for the second year.
“It’s a little bit of the preparation that their comfortable with,” said Jaafar.
Jaafar enjoys the school involvement for the bee.
“With the support of everyone else I wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Jaafar.
Principal Pastore thought the bee was a nail-biter.
“It was exciting,” said Pastore.
The PTA presents students in the spelling bee with a photo taken with their parents and the principal. They are also treated to a pizza party the day of the bee.
Spelling bee champs
Judges were impressed by students who mastered words like indefatigable, which means incapable of being fatigued.
The winners are: seventh grader Mellina Sihombing, sixth grader Rahul Soneji, and seventh grader Hanya Hassan.
“I was shocked that without American-English learning, [she made it so far],” said Bee Announcer Donna Iannaconi, about Hanya. “She must have really studied hard.”
The prizes included a trophy, plaque, medal, and gift cards. Above her winnings, Mellina’s parents awarded their daughter $100.
The first place winner spelled incarceration, thoracic, keratin, and the winning word, fibrillation. Fibrillation is a small, local, involuntary muscular contraction.
As preparation for the bee, Mellina and Hanya wrote down the list of words numerous times, while their competitor Rahul studied for two to three hours daily. Mellina also knew of words through the video game Scribblenauts.
“I know the word defibrillator so I connected it with fibrillation,” she said. “I’m proud of myself because last year I won third place.”
Mellina will move on to the Hudson County Spelling Bee on Saturday, Feb. 23 at New Jersey City University.
“I just want to be the girl that wins the national spelling bee,” said Sihombing.
Last year’s Lincoln School winner made it to second place at the Hudson County bee.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org