Middle schools crown spelling champs

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Naman beat out more than two dozen finalists to win the school competition — one of them his brother, Eshan, a sixth-grader who finished third in the competition.

“He’s come a long way from sixth grade,” Clarke Principal Stacy Breslin said of Naman. “He’s grown academically and socially. We’re just thrilled for him.”

Breslin added that Naman’s success has helped raise the profile of the school’s spelling bee. “Once they heard that he went on to the national bee,” she said of his fellow students, “it became something that they all aspired to.”

In his spare time, Naman said, he enjoys bowling and tennis, and is fond of science fiction novels, particularly those written by Rick Riordan.

Woodland’s champ

Abel first entered Woodland’s spelling bee last year, but did not place. This year he worked hard to improve his studying and spelling skills.
When faced with a large word that he doesn’t understand, Abel explained, he remembers a piece of advice his mother, Mini, gave him. “My mom taught me, whenever I can’t figure out a word, always sound it out,” he said.

His winning word, like Naman’s, was a plant: hibiscus. His mother and father, Jobi, are avid gardeners, he said, and he was able to spell the word without asking any questions — but not before he had to settle his nerves. “It didn’t come to me at first,” he said.
But then it did. “I was very proud of myself,” he said. “I think it boosted my self-esteem.”

“It’s a great highlight of our school,” said Woodland Principal James Lethbridge. “We’re very proud of Abel, and I’m sure he’ll represent us proud when he goes to Hofstra.”

Abel has a younger sister, Angella, who attends Barnum Woods Elementary School. When he’s not studying, he said, he likes playing video games and spending time outside. He is also a fan of sci-fi author Rick Riordan, but enjoys mystery writers like James Patterson as well.

More than just a competition

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