The Hoboken Rotary and a handful of fourth graders proved that spelling is not a lost skill in Hoboken.
Last year, Rotarians donated dictionaries to local third graders, and this year they came back to see if the books had been put to use.
The Rotary invited top fourth-grade spellers from seven schools in Hoboken to compete against each other in a spelling bee on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Hoboken Catholic Academy.
“We plan to make it annual,” Rotarian Noelle Tate said, adding that several other grade levels requested their own competitions. She said the Rotary may add another grade level next year.
“They loved. They really got into it.” – Rose Perry
Hoboken Catholic Principal Rose Perry thanked the Rotary for their donation of the dictionaries and said of the school hosting the event, “We wanted to return the favor.”
She said their fourth grade class had their own spelling bee to narrow it down to the top three.
“They were all geared up and ready to go,” she said. “They loved it. They really got into it.”
Edward Horan, from Stevens Cooperative School, earned first place after a long back-and-forth battle with second-place winner Blake Faucher from Hoboken Charter School in the final round.
After the other 19 spellers were eliminated, Horan and Faucher went word for word nearly 10 times until Faucher finally tripped up on the word “abandon.”
They both nailed words like “clustered,” “horizon,” “volunteer,” and “traditional” before Horan took the win.
Mehdi Mankor, from Hoboken Charter School, was the third place winner, but also won the battle of the Mankor household. Mehdi beat out his brother Hamza, who also represented Hoboken Charter.
The other competitors were Sam Nardone, Kavi Chopra, and Jeremiah Narramore from Mustard Seed; Jason Shaw, Nasir Smith, and Ethan Villalobos from Wallace; Frank Corrado, Zachary Sekelick, and Khadim Toure from Hoboken Catholic; Anthony Dominguez, Alyssa Rivera, Elijah Scott from Connors; Diana Baxter and Erica Grosso from Stevens Cooperative; and Gabriella Warren Y. Vigil, Seth McLauglin, and Jaclyn Rosa from Calabro.
Horan, the big winner, had the crowd in stitches during the bee when he would ask for the definition by stating what he thought the definition was.
“Wheat, as in the plant used in grinding flour?” he asked judges. “Century? As in the last time of 100 years?”
“Oooo-kay,” he’d reply after the definition was confirmed. “Century. C, E, N, T, U, R, Y, century.”
Spellers, just like in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, could ask for judges to repeat the word, recite the definition, or use the word in a sentence.
After the bee, Horan said his love for reading helped him bring home the win.
“I read…a lot,” he said. “I especially like mysteries, fantasies, biographies.”
The young fourth-grader said he like fantasy stories because, “There are no bounds to them.”
Horan said one of his favorite authors is Daniel Pinkwater, the former Hoboken resident. Horan’s favorite Pinkwater titles include “The Hoboken Chicken Emergency” and “Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken Chicken Story.”
Rotarian Steven Kratchman kicked off the event with an anecdote about the importance of spelling. Kratchman, an architect, once saw a schematic blueprint at work for an elevator shaft that read “fright elevator” rather than “freight elevator.”
Unfortunately, Kratchman did not provide the group with the correct spelling of “freight” and – in an ironic twist – one unlucky speller was later eliminated after misspelling the word.
Rotarian Greg Dell’Aquila donated gift certificates to Barnes and Noble for the top three spellers. First place was awarded $100, second place $50, and third place $25.
Hoboken Rotary is an organization where business and community service intersect. The club’s 40 members give out scholarships, donate their time, and raise money for local charities.
They are sponsoring a live auction of fine arts and sports and entertainment memorabilia at All Saints Episcopal Church, Seventh and Washington streets, on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.