UNION, NJ – Vertex, V-E-R-T-E-X, Vertex.

So began Jefferson School’s 23rd Annual Mayor’s Spelling Bee Friday night.

“It is extraordinary how challenging the words are and how the contestants are truly great spellers," said teacher and event organizer Karen Steiner.  "They just ‘have it!’   When it comes down to two or three contestants it does become very, very exciting for all.  The students in the audience were terrific, so respectful, so encouraging. I was so proud of the Jefferson students.”

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“This is really a fun day,” said Deputy Mayor Joseph Florio.  “I want to congratulate all of the students.”

Each of the twenty-seven 5th grade contestants introduced themselves before the contest.  Abundance, characteristic and exaggerate, were a few of the tough words that tripped up some of the contestants in Round 1.

Round 2, with 13 contestants, saw words like outrageous and dissatisfied reduce the number of contestants moving on to Round 3 to eight. 

Words guardian and desirable then reduced the group to four for Round 4. 

Perspiration provided to be a tough word and three of the last four contestants were eliminated, leaving Oseka Balogun, from Mrs. Wahler's class, as this year’s Mayor’s Spelling Bee Champion.

A final round, with the three contestants from Round 4, then took place to determine second place.  Unanimous, symmetry, souvenir tripped up all three contestants, but Andrew Arsi, from Ms. Manderichio's class, was the lone contestant to correctly spell handkerchief, winning second place.