The words and the bees: Students display bilingual prowess in spelling bee

Published Wednesday, April 3, 2019
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Spelling Bee


The bell tolled almost 40 times Friday as students battled to spell tricky words in the Rann Elementary School library during the Bilingual Spelling Bee Friday.

As words got progressively harder, with the late rounds claiming student after student, the bell had only stayed silent for one, Rann Elementary School fourth grader Rigoberto Jaramillo.

Eleven letters separated Jaramillo from the crown. The word was a doozie.

With a hushed audience, the fourth grader sounded out the syllables in his head, then took a big swing, confidently scratching the dry erase marker across the whiteboard.

After double checking his work, Jaramillo held up his board, showing the panel of judges the word “solidaridad.”

El Campeon

EL CAMPEON – Rann Elementary fourth grader Rigoberto Jaramillo won the bilingual spelling bee Friday. He spelled solidaridad (solidarity) to win first place in the bee. Submitted photo

The bell stayed silent once more as Jaramillo was greeted with applause and a large first place trophy, taking the crown as the Decatur-Bridgeport Bilingual Spelling Bee champ.

Jaramillo and the other students in the spelling bee can speak and spell in two languages. Up until three years ago, those students didn’t have the opportunity to show off their Spanish spelling prowess.

But in 2016, Decatur ISD and Bridgeport ISD partnered to start the Bilingual Spelling Bee, alternating as hosts to allow students to do just that.

Rann Elementary teacher Gabriela Diaz said the school organized the event so bilingual students could show off their mastery of Spanish in addition to English.

“We wanted to allow our bilingual students to be part of a similar event as the monolingual students have,” Diaz said, referencing the traditional, English spelling bee. “Bilingual students get to participate in both if they wish. Our students feel proud of themselves for this great accomplishment.”

The bilingual bee has grown in the three years since it was started.

Diaz hopes to see the bee grow, adding other districts in and beyond Wise County to make the bilingual bee a bigger event.

“Our goal is to attract other districts in hopes of making it a bigger event,” Diaz said. “It’s a privilege to help our bilingual students soar in their native language as we continue to support them in learning English as well.

Next year Bridgeport will get a shot at reclaiming the bilingual title on their home turf. Rann and Decatur ISD have bilingual spelling bee bragging rights until 2020.

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