School champions compete in annual Spanish-language bee

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St. Jerome eighth-grader Wanda Deglane won the fifth-eighth-grade competition, while St. Theresa eight-grader Susan Peters took second.

St. Jerome eighth-grader Wanda Deglane won the fifth-eighth-grade competition, while St. Theresa eight-grader Susan Peters took second.

AVONDALE — It took nearly three hours for the winners to be decided at the annual diocesan Spanish-language Spelling Bee April 22 at St. Thomas Aquinas School.

St. Gregory fourth-grader Jack Sullivan won in the first-fourth-grade contest, while Ss. Simon and Jude third-grader Tanner Bonheimer took second. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)

St. Gregory fourth-grader Jack Sullivan won in the first-fourth-grade contest, while Ss. Simon and Jude third-grader Tanner Bonheimer took second. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)

In the end, St. Gregory fourth-grader Jack Sullivan won in the first-fourth-grade contest, while St. Jerome eighth-grader Wanda Deglane took the first place trophy in the fifth-eighth-grade competition.

Tanner Bonheimer, a third-grader at Ss. Simon and Jude, took second among the younger group while longtime spelling bee contestant Susan Peters took second among the older students. In all, 22 students competed, each having won the Spanish-language bee at their respective schools.

The Spanish-language bee is a challenge for students. While sounding words out seems to work better in Spanish, other rules differ from the English language. Take, for example, whether or not to capitalize a month. In Spanish, months are not capitalized. The same is also true for days of the week.

Sullivan said he was “OK” at spelling in English — he took second place in the English-language spelling bee at his school. The first-place winner in the Spanish contest said he said there’s more memorization that takes place in English.

Bonheimer, whose favorite book is “The Gingerbread Baby,” outspelled some older students en route to his second-place finish. He said his parents helped him prepare at home, but his favorite subject is mathematics.

Deglane and Peters narrowly edged out Blake Giles of Pope John XXIII. The three competed against each other for several rounds until Giles was eliminated.

Deglane, daughter of Peruvian immigrants, grew up speaking Spanish.

“Learning two languages is very important, especially for a job,” she said. She’s planning on attending Bourgade Catholic High School next year.

Peters, who’s competed in eight diocesan spelling bees, placed second for the third consecutive year at the Spanish-language bee. She made it to the later rounds in the three English-languages bees in which she competed as well.

“I was really surprised,” Peters said of her finish. She noted that other contestants were native Spanish speakers and she didn’t expect to place second. She plans to attend Xavier College Preparatory next year.

J.D. Long-Garcia is the former editor of The Catholic Sun. He joined the staff in 2004. J.D., a lay Dominican, studied journalism and psychology at Arizona State University, philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union. He's taught classes at the Kino Institute, worked as an outreach intern at All Saints Catholic Newman Center, led a deanery confirmation program in Berkeley, Calif., and served as a catechist for children of various ages. He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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