SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A total of 16 South Plainfield students put their spelling skills to the test on Feb. 7 in the borough’s 3rd Annual Spelling Bee. Nethra Sriam, a fifth grader at Grant School, took the top honor in the contest with Roosevelt fourth grader Atharva Makode and Kennedy fourth grader Ava Cabrera earning second and third place, respectively.

Held at the South Plainfield Senior Center and sponsored by the South Plainfield Borough Cultural Arts Commission, the South Plainfield Suburban Women’s Club, and the South Plainfield Middle School PTO, the contest was open to all fourth and fifth graders living or attending school in the borough as well as those who are homeschooled.All participants received certificates of recognition with Sriam also receiving a $50 Visa gift card courtesy of the Cultural Arts Commission and Makode and Cavrera each awarded $25 Visa gift cards donated by the Suburban Women's Club. Additionally, the three finalists will have the opportunity to represent South Plainfield in the College District Spelling Bee, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 11 at the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Club’s (NJSFWC) state headquarters in New Brunswick.

This year’s spelling bee participants included Cabrera, Makode, and Sriam along with Grant fifth graders Allison Buchanan and Gianna Penyak and fourth graders Mathew Robertson (Holy Savior), Yug Kumar (Roosevelt), Paityn Moniz-D’Souza (Riley), Zachary Dosch (Kennedy),  Matthew Sidun (Holy Savior), Ashwini Devaraj (Roosevelt), Eriel Catalanotti (Riley), Brian Piro (Riley), Agastya Dewan (Roosevelt), Paige McAuley (Roosevelt) and Sidhant Somadathan (Roosevelt). 

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All participants were required to follow standard spelling bee rules set by NJSFWC, which required them to pronounce the word, spell it and pronounce it again. Words were repeated, used in a sentence, and/or defined upon request and students were eliminated for incorrect spelling and/or missing or incorrect capitalization. Throughout the competition a variety of grade-appropriate words supplied by NJFSWC were given and a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary was used as the official spelling guide. This year’s 16 contestants in total spelled over 100 words, including but not limited to, ‘croquet,’ knapsack,’ ‘description,’ ‘scribe,’ earthquake,’ ‘Vermont,’ ‘yellowish,’ ‘Pennsylvania,’ ‘turquoise,’ ‘receipt,’ ‘macaroni,’ ‘raccoon,’ ‘Thursday,’ ‘grasshopper,’ ‘description,’ ‘tactics,’ and ‘spaghetti’ with Sriam winning with her correct spelling of ‘radios.’

South Plainfield High School’s Silver Livings musicians performed prior to the start of the spelling bee. Debbie Boyle, a member of the South Plainfield Board of Education, Cultural Arts Commission, and Suburban Woman’s Club, served as moderator with judging conducted by 10-member panel that included Suzanne Lepore, Cultural Arts Commission; Borough Councilmembers Jon Dean, Christine Faustini, and Joe Wolak; Sharon Miller, South Plainfield Board of Education; Stephanie Bartfalvi, South Plainfield Planning Board; Nancy Grennier, South Plainfield Observer; Shannon Jeffreys, South Plainfield Education Foundation and Columbia Bank; Mindy Gerber, Cultural Arts Commission; and Annemarie Stoeckel, supervisor of technology for the South Plainfield School District.

“This was our third annual spelling bee contest. It's exciting for the students to participate and great to see them working as a team, competing together," said Boyle. "Competitions like this help engage our students and enable them to focus on broadening their word definitions and spelling abilities.”

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