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El Observador

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 Adelante Academy held its third annual Spanish Spelling Bee this past Friday,  January 24 at the academy’s school site where fourth grader Ruby Jimenez won, beating out 29 other contestants from grades 4th-8th.

“We did the Spanish Spelling Bee because we wanted the students to value the Spanish language,” said Franklin Collazo a parent volunteer and elementary school teacher. “To motivate them to study Spanish [and] to actually use it, we thought what better way than a contest with awesome prizes.”

The academy started ten years ago by a group of parents, teachers and community members who wanted a dual language program after California’s bilingual education programs had ended. The group wrote a proposal for the Alum Rock School District Board of Trustees and they accepted. The Alum Rock District school now has 540 students.

“When you’re learning two languages you’re using a part of your brain that people who learn one language don’t have to utilize. It really does develop your brain in a different way,” said Sandra Garcia, Principal of Adelante Academy.

All 30 contestants were the top three spellers for their respective class. The contestants are then eliminated round by round until there is only one contestant standing. The final rounds include words from semi-professional to professional spelling levels. The academy also followed the same rules as the Spanish spelling bee at the professional level.

Aside from winning a Samsung Galaxy tablet, Ruby will also participate in the national Spanish spelling bee in New Mexico.

“At the end I was very nervous. And now I won, so I feel very happy,” said Ruby.  When spelling her final word Ruby switched a couple of letters. “When I saw it with a ‘j’ it did not look right so I spelled it with a ‘g’ and I won.”

Ruby said she will use her Spanish language skills as a teacher when she gets older.

“I’m very proud of my daughter. She worked very hard,” said Betty Jimenez, Ruby’s mother. Ruby studied for approximately 30 minutes each day. Jimenez said she will continue to practice spelling with Ruby to help prepare her for New Mexico.

The academy received calls and emails from other schools interested in competing in their Spanish spelling bee. In the future, the academy may open the competition up to a county wide level or a Bay Area wide level.

For now, the academy will focus its efforts on fundraising more than three thousand dollars to send Ruby, a parent, and a teacher to New Mexico.

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