SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A total of 19 South Plainfield students put their knowledge of the English language to the test on Feb. 5 in the borough’s 6th Annual Spelling Bee. 

For 2020, the top three spellers hail from Grant School, with fifth grader Aryan Rewana coming in first place and fifth graders Saanvi Kumar and Prathan Patel taking second and third, respectively. All three students will have the opportunity to represent South Plainfield in the New Jersey State Federation Women’s Club (NJSFWC) College District Bee taking place Feb. 23 in New Brunswick. 

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

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“Great job [by] all the students who came out to participate in the spelling bee,” said Debbie Boyle, who, in addition to serving as the event’s organizer, serves as education chair of the South Plainfield Suburban Women’s Club and vice president of the South Plainfield Cultural Arts Commission. “I give so much credit to the fourth and fifth grade students who had the courage to participate and stand up on the stage in the spotlight.”

Throughout the competition, a variety of grade-appropriate words supplied by the National Federation of Women’s Clubs were given to the students by a 9-person panel with the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 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 the contestant’s request, words were repeated, used in a sentence, and/or defined and students were eliminated for an incorrect spelling and capitalization. 

This year’s contestants correctly spelled over 100 grade-appropriate words, including but not limited to, lonesome, Pennsylvania, grasshopper, scribe, understand, macaroni, automobile, eighteen, landscape, describe, loneliness, televise, defroster, and permanent. Trickier words, such as tactics, aardvark, camouflage, receipt, and spaghetti also came into play and, in the end, Aryan took first place, correctly spelling of both rabble and acquainted. 

All participants received a certificate of recognition along with a wallet/ID holder courtesy of the Boyle Memorial Foundation with the top three winners awarded Visa gift cards; Aryan received $50 from the Cultural Arts Commission; Saanvi, who last year came in third place in the South Plainfield spelling bee and went on to finish fourth in the NJSFWC College District Bee, received $25 from the Suburban Women’s Club; and Prathan received $25 from the Boyle Memorial Foundation. 

The 2020 spelling bee contestants included Grant fifth graders Aryan Rewaria, Saanvi Kumar, and Pratham Patel along with Chloe Angeles, Zoe Cabrera, Madison Droge, Abeera Khan, and Olivia Staunton; Roosevelt fourth graders Arusha Bakshi, Anvi Dobhal, Darsh Gaur, and Myra Mehrotra; Kennedy fourth grader Khalid Mossalamy; Riley fourth graders Isabella Batshaw and Anne Flannery; Holy Savior Academy fourth grader Markus Ubungen; and Holy Savior Academy fifth graders Juliann Rose Zrno, Alexandra German, and Adela Truong. 

Special thanks to residents Jay and Jen Buchanan and their children, James and Allison, for providing 30 minutes of chamber music prior to the start of the event as well as to this year's judges: Jessica Spina and Stephanie Bartfalvi, South Plainfield Public Celebrations Committee; Jon Dean, former councilman; Nancy Grennier and Mary Ann Bourbeau, South Plainfield Observer; Suzanne Lepore, president of the Cultural Arts Commission; Councilman Derryck White; and Anu Garrison, director of grants and math, Pam Ackerman-Garcia, supervisor of ELA and social studies for the South Plainfield School District.

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