Writing on the wall spells out a winner | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Writing on the wall spells out a winner

Shannon Litz / The Record-Courier / Sabrina Swoger, a sixth-grader at Kingsbury Middle School, spells "graffiti" to take first place during the Douglas County School District spelling bee.

“Graffiti” was the word that made Sabrina Swoger a winner at the sixth-grade spelling bee at Piñon Hills Elementary School and made her one of Douglas County’s representatives to the state spelling bee in Las Vegas next month.

It took four rounds to get down to the final two spellers. The previous students had fallen by the wayside by misspelling what probably are traditional spelling bee stumpers such as abdomen, mezzanine, unnatural and mortician.

Sabrina, a Kingsbury Middle School student, and second-place speller Brianna Randall of Piñon Hills moved on to the fifth round after successfully spelling mistletoe and oblique, respectively. Briana misspelled armadillo, but according to the rules, Sabrina had to spell that word and the next word, graffiti, correctly to win the contest.

Pau-Wa-Lu eighth-grader Bonnie Slocum, who placed fifth in last year’s state championship, won the eighth-grade bee, and Carson Valley Middle School seventh-grader Daniel Ruben won the bee for his grade.

The winners at the state competition will go to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 79th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 31 to June 1.

The 22 students in the sixth-grade competition were the top three spellers from each of Douglas County School District’s sixth-grade classes plus Laura Kruse, a home-schooled student. Other participants from Kingsbury Middle School were Caranina Palomino and Samantha Rupp.

Sabrina’s English teacher and spelling coach for the Kingsbury students, Cathy Ricioli, said her students practiced at lunch.

“Lunch time is the best time to coach the kids,” Ricioli said. “They have such busy schedules. To prepare for the competition, every extra credit assignment used words from the bee list. All the students were devoted to studying. I’ll continue to help Sabrina, but she has great support from home.”

Sabrina, 11, said practicing with her friends during school lunch helped improve her spelling skills.

“We practiced Monday through Thursday and I practiced at home,” she said. “My friend Darby Reeder quizzed me a lot.”

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