SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A total of 19 South Plainfield students put their spelling skills to the test earlier this week in the borough’s 4th Annual Spelling Bee. Holy Savior fourth grader Michelle Jimmy was crowned the winner of the Jan. 23 contest with Roosevelt fourth grader Sameer Vechalapu and Grant School fifth grader Aadi Shah earning second and third place honors, respectively.

Held at the South Plainfield Senior Center and sponsored by the South Plainfield Borough Cultural Arts Commission and the South Plainfield Suburban Women’s Club, the spelling bee was open to all fourth and fifth graders living or attending school in the borough as well as those who are home-schooled. 

Throughout the competition, a variety of grade-appropriate words supplied by the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Club were given by a 10-person panel of judges and a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary was used as the official spelling guide. Students were required to follow standard spelling bee rules, which required them to pronounce the word, spell it and pronounce it again. At a contestant’s request, words could be repeated, used in a sentence, and/or defined with eliminated for incorrect spelling or capitalization.

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This year, students spelled close to 100 words, including but not limited to, ‘knapsack,’ ‘description,’ ‘scribe,’ ‘earthquake,’ ‘turquoise,’ carbohydrate,’ ‘acquainted,’ ‘Pennsylvania,’ ‘September,’ and ‘camouflage’ with Jimmy winning with her correct spelling of ‘cough’ and ‘bellow.’

All participants received a certificate of recognition; Michelle was also presented with a $50 Visa gift card courtesy of the Cultural Arts Commission and Sameer and Aadi both received $25 Visa gift card from the Suburban Women's Club. Additionally, the three finalists, along with fourth runner up Katrina Rasmussen, a fifth grader at Grant, will have the opportunity to represent South Plainfield in the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Club’s State Spelling Bee taking place Sunday, Feb. 11 in New Brunswick.

Contestants included Jimmy, Rasmussen, Shah, and Vechalapu; fourth graders Caleigh Banaria, Camila Chavez, Emma Figueiredo, Kruti Kartik, Aiden McCarthy, Lucia Rose Merendino, Arjav Shah, and Sydney Vallanueva; and fifth graders Sephora Beg, Ava Cavrera, Ashwini Devaraj, Eriel Catalanotti, Paige McAuley, Paityn Moniz-D’Souza, and Rudra Patel.

The 2018 judges were South Plainfield Council members Jon Dean, Christine Faustini, Joe Wolak and Council President Robert Bengivenga; Sharon Miller, former member of the South Plainfield Board of Education; Nancy Grennier, South Plainfield Observer, Shannon Jeffreys, Columbia Bank, Mary Ann Bourbeau, South Plainfield Observer; Stephanie Bartfalvi, South Plainfield Public Celebrations Committee; and Annemarie Stoeckel, supervisor of technology for the South Plainfield School District.

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