SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Appleby Elementary School's top spellers showed off their prowess in the second annual Appleby Spelling Bee on Wednesday, March 29. Sixteen participants took the stage in the school's multipurpose room to see who would be this year's top speller.
The final 16 competitors began with a field of 117 participants. Students competed in grade level spell-offs to find the top four spellers in each grade during the school day. The four best from second, third, fourth and fifth grades returned in the evening. The 16 spellers for the competition included second graders Brandon Buchan, Andrew Castrogiovanni, David Donovan and Dillon Schmitz, third graders Valerie Cicero, Olivia Dantoni, Justin Lancaster and Samantha Mossa, fourth graders Shawn Dollete, Ryan Legakis, Krishna Nair and Cole Rizzo as well as fifth graders Laila Armour-Scaife, Andrew Capran, Marco Hatzistefanis and Corey Miller.
By the start of round six, the field of spellers narrowed to 11 with the level of word difficulty rising to sixth grade. When round seven kicked off, seven spellers remained, including Cicero, Mossa, Dollete, Legakis, Armour-Scaife, Capran and Miller.
Legakis quipped that it was "shocking" that the word difficulty had climbed to seventh grade before correctly spelling the word antidote. The fourth grader would eventually join Cicero, Mossa, Dollete, Capran and Miller to round out the final six competitors.
They would spell it out to decide the top three finishers. Cicero, Mossa, Dollete, Capran and Miller all participated in last year's inaugural spelling bee. Capran claimed third place in the 2016 Appleby Spelling Bee with Mossa and Miller both making it to the final six last spring.
In the end, Cicero would claim the third place trophy. The third grader narrowly missed the word inadvertently, leaving Mossa and Capran to battle it out for the top prize. Mossa stumbled on gladiatorial, but proudly claimed second place, smiling broadly. There's little doubt that Mossa would be back next spring in the final 16, listing studying as one of her favorite activities.
Capran correctly spelled nuisance to win the 2017 Appleby Spelling Bee. Now, the fifth grader had a second spelling trophy to add to his collection.
After the trophies were handed out, the rest of the 13 spelling bee participants were brought back to the stage. Each received a certificate as well as a gold star balloon. Grins were wide as the students received words of praise from their teachers and families for a job well spelled.