Peña Wins Los Fresnos CISD Spelling Bee


by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

Sydney Jo Peña of Liberty Memorial Middle School outlasted a field of 36 spellers to win the Los Fresnos CISD Spelling Bee Saturday at Los Fresnos United Cafeteria.

Peña now qualifies to participate in the Rio Grande Valley Spelling Bee scheduled March 3 at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen.

Peña and Grecia Benavidez of Resaca Middle School went toe-to-toe alone for two rounds before Peña spelled her word correctly in the 10th round while Benavides missed. Peña then spelled her 11th round word correctly to win the Bee.

Benavidez and Peña, both of whom are in sixth grade, are veterans of district bees. Benavidez was champion in 2015 and 2017 while at Olmito Elementary School. Peña placed fourth in 2017 and second in 2016 as a student at Los Fresnos Elementary.

Finishing in third place was Matthew Gomez, a third-grade student at Lopez-Riggins Elementary. He was eliminated in Round 8.

Finishing in fourth place was Noah Gomez, a first-grade student at Lopez-Riggins. Noah, the younger brother of Matthew Gomez, was eliminated in Round 4.

The Bee participants placed among the top three at their respective campus spelling bees held in December and January.

John Newman, Professor of Linguistics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, will be the pronouncer.

Serving as judges were Sandra Ruiz, Director of Advanced Academics for Los Fresnos CISD; Mariana Tumlinson, Director of Community and Public Relations for Valley Regional Medical Center, and Michelle Vargas, anchor for KGBT Television Channel 4.

The participants included:

  • Las Yescas Elementary: Kiran Torres, Ignacio Barragan, Allison Hernandez. Coach: Amalia Salazar.
  • Laureles Elementary: Betty Guerrero, Alyssa Perales, Guadalupe Nuñez. Alternate Said Mayorga. Coach: Flor Rodriguez-Trejo.
  • Lopez-Riggins Elementary: Noah Gomez, Matthew Gomez, Brenna Castro. Alternate: Carlos Rodriguez. Coach: Rebecca Villarreal.
  • Los Fresnos Elementary: Damon Rodriguez, Franky Gonzalez Jr., Janell Garcia. Alternate Joshua Alexander Barrera. Coach Gisela Sosa-Lopez.
  • Olmito Elementary: Mariel Juarez, Sunny Zhang, Carmine Navarro. Alternate: Marbella Ramirez. Coach: Shannon Cherrington.
  • Palmer-Laakso Elementary: Rudy Stelzer, Daryce Ramirez, Debbie Ontiveros. Alternate: Mia Ochoa. Coach: Priscilla Ramirez.
  • Rancho Verde Elementary: Mia Perez, Christian Loera, Haydee Montero. Coach: Carmen Loredo.
  • Dora Romero Elementary: Isaiah Castro, Evelyn Quintero, Lily Salazar. Alternate: Isaac Perez. Coach: Ruby Vera.
  • Villareal Elementary: Julian Lerma, Benjamin Lu, Karina Lopez. Alternate: Yazmin Garcia. Coach: Melissa Shafer.
  • Liberty Memorial Middle School: Sydney Jo Peña, Andree Martinez, Pedro Alanis Jr. Alternate: Mara Cavazos. Coach: Sabrina Ochoa.
  • Los Cuates Middle School: Carlos Rodriguez, Caroline Ghiloni, Christopher S. Reynolds II. Coach: Amy Baker.
  • Resaca Middle School: Grecia Benavides, Andrea Iturbe, Joel Pallero. Alternate: Paulina Lopez. Coach: Daniel Sanchez.

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