Algae and mahogany aren’t words you use every day. Certainly not words frequently used by elementary and middle schoolers.
Nonetheless, those were the two words that won the Gainesville district’s elementary and middle school spelling bees Friday at the Gainesville Middle library.
Erick Willock, a fifth-grader who goes to Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, and Emily Mosqueda-Calderon, a sixth-grader at Gainesville Middle School, won in their divisions.
Erick spelled algae correctly after sparring with runner-up fifth-grader from Centennial Arts Academy Kamyaab Cornett for several rounds.
They misspelled words like gnarled, equestrian, bedraggled and paisley before Erick took home the winner’s plaque and stood smiling meekly at the microphone while peers, parents and other attendees cheered for him.
Erick will move on to the divisional competition next. The date is not set for that match yet.
The 10-year-old said he didn’t practice before the match, but loves reading books like the “Chronicles of Narnia” series which might have helped.
Nerves, which came out in shaky hands and voices, were very real for the kids competing.
Runner-up for the middle school division Jomaris Maldonado was one sufferer.
“I was so nervous, I felt like my heart stopped,” Jomaris, a sixth-grader at Gainesville Middle School, said.
However, she pulled through and made it to the top two.
“I knew God was on my side,” she said.
The sixth-grader said she didn’t practice for the bee, and isn’t a big reader.
Emily, who won the bee, said she loves reading but only makes time for it once or twice a week when she gets bored. In order to win, she had to spell catastrophic and mahogany correctly to knock Jomaris out of the competition.
Jomaris wasn’t the only one Emily had to beat.
She also had to beat Manuel Blanco, Jamari Hester, Ella Wilson, Leslie Lopez, Steffany Franco, Angie Ortiz, Eliam Esparza and Anna Kate Embry.
By the second round, only four remained to go on to the vocabulary section: Alexyss Smith, Elizabeth Stewart, Jomaris and Emily.
Though the competition was tough, Emily and Jomaris became friends through their experience together.
“We didn’t know each other before, but we are friends now,” Jomaris said.
Emily will go on to the divisional level competition as well, which she said she is nervous and excited for.
Erick said his nerves were a bit rattled for the bee, but he held it together and had his mom there to support him. Kamyaab said it was both fun and stressful.
The elementary school did not include the vocabulary portion of the bee, since one child said they weren’t able to practice that portion and it wouldn’t be fair.
MOre than a dozen kids participated in the elementary school’s bee.
Christopher Solis, Jose Ayala and Vicky Tamayo came from New Holland Core Knowledge Academy. Justin Serrano and Michaya Willams came from Fair Street School. Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy sent Erick, Georgia Alford and Hannah Stewart. Centennial Arts Academy sent Stuart Daniel, Abby McMahan, and Kamyaab. Gainesville Exploration Academy sent Eduardo Rosas, Bryan Gomez and Andrew Wilson.