Blog: Latino Ed Beat

National Spanish Spelling Bee Gets a New Queen

The weekend brought plenty of notable victories. For baseball fans, there was Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit helping the Yankees to another win. For soccer fans, there was the U.S. women’s dramatic win over Brazil in the World Cup.

And for word nerds, educators and education writers, there was Evelyn Juarez’s first-place finish in the first National Spanish Spelling Bee in Alburquerque, N.M. The seventh-grader from Santa Cruz, N.M., beat out competitors from Texas, Colorado, Oregon and New Mexico by correctly spelling the word bizantinismo, which means excessive luxury.

Reading about the bee in this story from the Alburquerque Journal, and this one from the San Antonio Express-News reminded me of the great 2002 documentary “Spellbound,” which tracked eight contestants through the grueling Scripps National Spelling Bee. The film was a great way to illustrate the demands placed on high-achieving students and to examine education issues without simply citing statistics and policy.

It might be worthwhile to see if your local school districts are planning to hold their own Spanish spelling bees. If they are, try to follow some students through the process. The journey will likely provide insight into the workings of your area schools and offer an angle to write about dual-language curriculums.

No spelling bees on tap? Then, find out if your districts are doing anything else to encourage the mastery of Spanish and other heritage languages, as a growing number of schools around the country are.