Spelling Bee Winner

January 18, 2023

LANCASTER, Texas --  “Geopolitics. G-e-o-p-o-l-i-t-i-c-s. Geopolitics,” said Christopher Matildo, triumphantly securing his second consecutive win in the Lancaster ISD District Spelling Bee. Matildo, an eighth grader at Lancaster Middle School, took home the first-place championship trophy after 23 rounds of competition.

“It feels great to be a two-time winner,” said Matildo. “I’m excited to get another opportunity to compete in the district spelling bee and the Dallas County Spelling Bee.”

On Thursday, January 12, nine students from the elementary school campuses, sixth-grade center, and middle school took the stage. Each student was the winner of their campus spelling bee and advanced to the district-wide contest.

Spelling Bee Coordinator, Walesha Robinson, says spelling competitions are a crucial part of a student’s literacy development.

“Spelling bees allow students to demonstrate their academic stamina regarding the sounds words make and the spelling rules that apply,” said Robinson. “Students use rote memory to learn the correct spelling of words but rely on literacy skills to recall the rules to spelling if their memory fails during a competition. Drawing on these skills will help in the future as they are exposed to difficult text in reading and writing requirements.”

Philology, ceiling, distracted, and serum were among the words the students had to spell out and recite during the bee. Ruby Velazquez, the second-place winner from Houston Elementary, says she’s proud of herself for placing in the top three. 

“I worked hard to prepare for the spelling bee, and I’m glad I did well,” said Velazquez. “I studied the words a lot, and my sister was a big help in getting me ready for the Houston Elementary spelling bee and the district bee.”

Jorge Balleza, the third-place winner from Belt Line Elementary, says he was excited about competing in the district spelling bee.

“Other than the actual competition, the most exciting part was meeting spellers from other campuses,” said Balleza. “All of the time I spent studying with my parents and quizzing myself paid off.”

Robinson says students must practice spelling even if they’re not preparing for a spelling bee. 

“Spelling is part of foundational literacy skills and will help connect letter names with sounds and help students learn to read, write, and comprehend text,” said Robinson.

Matildo says he improved his study methods for this year’s spelling bee after winning last year’s competition.

“I believe that spelling bees come down to what you study and what you already know. I had many words the pronouncer read in my vocabulary. But for some of them, I had to study and memorize them. When I was studying and came across a tricky word, I labeled it as a ‘caution word,’ so I knew I needed to take more time to work on it.”

When asked what advice he would give the younger students working on competing in next year’s spelling bee, Matildo says it’s essential to read daily.

“It all starts with reading so you can start to build up your vocabulary words. The more you read, the more words you’ll already have in your mind. It will be easier to recall them when you’re in a spelling bee.”

Matildo will represent Lancaster ISD in the Dallas County Spelling Bee in February 2023. Velazquez will serve as an alternate.