Community School District 5 Announces First Winners of First Annual Spelling Bee, First Grade Champ is The Reading Team Participant

A first grader in a literacy enhancement program won the “2014 District 5 Superintendent’s Spelling Bee Champion for the First Grade” this week. Corey Cid, who participates in The Reading Team at P.S. 36, earned the top spot after beating out tough competition of 14 first-grade spellers. Chanell Sanchez from P.S. 133 and Michael Ballester from P.S. 161 won second and third place, respectively.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Corey did well in the CSD 5 spelling bee,” said The Reading Team President and Founder Maureen Rover. “Corey is an outstanding student, a sweet child, a fast learner, and a voracious reader.”

The Reading Team programs immerse young children who are at high risk of reading failure in a rich and engaging learning environment. West Harlem Development Corporation gave a grant to The Reading Team in 2013 for its program at P.S. 36.

The first half (grades 1 through 5) of the First Annual District 5 Superintendent’s Spelling Bee Competition took place on June 4. The second half of the spelling bee for sixth through eighth graders took place at 6 p.m. on June 6 at Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive (at 145th Street). The winners in the remaining grades were:

  • Second Grade: First Place: Brian Salcedo (P.S. 161), Second Place: Skylah Bostic (P.S. 194), Third Place: Brian Cespedes (Thurgood Marshall Academy, Lower School).
  • Third Grade: First Place: Kadiatu Bah (P.S. 200), Second Place: Francisco Sanchez (P.S. 161), Third Place: Maysa Maryam (P.S. 129).
  • Fourth Grade: First Place: Alexis Hernandez (P.S. 129), Second Place: Alyeada Sloh (Thurgood Marshall Academy, Lower School), Third Place: Ruby Acosta (P.S. 161).
  • Fifth Grade: First Place: Cleon Lewis, Jr. (P.S. 30), Second Place: Junal Jordan (P.S. 129), Third Place: Cheik Fall (P.S. 36).
  • Sixth Grade: First Place: Dominique Hornbuckle (Thurgood Marshall Academy/M.S./H.S. 670); Second Place: Ruben Acosta (P.S./M.S. 161); Third Place: Cyncere Diarra (R.L.A.-I.S. 286).
  • Seventh Grade: First Place: Aiche Ba (P.S./M.S. 123); Second Place: Epiphany Adams (Frederick Douglass Academy-M.S./H.S. 499); Third Place: Tyleel Cherry (R.L.A.-I.S. 286).
  • Eighth Grade: First Place: Kevin Korang (Frederick Douglass Academy-M.S./H.S. 499); Second Place: Ashley Martinez (P.S. 129); Third Place: Taliq Starks (R.L.A.-I.S. 286).

The Superintendent’s District-wide Spelling Bee Competition, held in partnership with Riverbank State Park, included 20 schools in District 5, from first through eighth grade. All participants received medals, and each 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place winner from each grade received a trophy.

“Though abbreviated spelling through text and email communication are rampant in our children’s lives, spelling among academic and professional forums is still necessary,” said Community School District 5 Superintendent Gale Reeves. “Students need to be able to meet the challenge of future career and academic goals, being well-equipped in their reading, writing, and spelling abilities.”

The preliminary competition began in early May in individual schools, first in classrooms, then grade-wide, then school-wide, with a grade-wide champion from each school participating in the district-wide finals. The Spelling Bee Committee’s goal is to create an engaging, challenging, and student friendly competition promoting rigor, engagement, study skills, collaboration and fun.

The Bee will become an annual event, and School District 5 may decide to encourage participation of future winners in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Reeves said. Experts have noted the increased importance of phonics in mastering various subjects, particularly under the new Common Core.

The district picked as judges individuals who are either working collaboratively with schools in the district or who were involved in supporting educational initiatives throughout the city. On June 4, they included former City Council Member and Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson; Kofi A. Boateng, PhD, Executive Director of West Harlem Development Corporation, which aided in logistics and communications for the Spelling Bee; Audrey O’Keefe, Standard and Poors – McGraw-Hill Financial; Audrey Gaul, New York State Education Chair, NAACP; and Anthony Harmon – Executive Director, UFT.

“We are excited to be part of such a positive event for the community and for the school children of District 5,” said Scott Matson, Riverbank State Park Operations Director and Acting Deputy Regional Manager. “Students, faculty and parents came to Riverbank in May to partake in ‘I Love My Park Day,’ an annual statewide clean-up event, and we’re delighted to deepen our relationship with the school district by partnering for the Spelling Bee.”

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