Buzz words! Kids have f-u-n at Bed-Stuy spelling bee

‘First’ place: From left, first-grade finalists Ralson Thompson, who came in third, second-place-winner Hanniah Dormil, and gold medalist Adriel Martinez.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

What’s better than a talking dog? A spelling bee!

Hundreds of grade-school word nerds from across the city battled it out in a spelling tournament at Bedford-Stuyvesant’s PS 40 on Feb. 23, and even those with adult vocabularies were impressed by the young language buffs’ skills.

“It was fun, it was nice to see us trying to choose challenging words for the kids to spell incorrectly, and the kids continue to spell them right,” said Jon Hyman, a Manhattan tech entrepreneur who volunteered as a judge.

Some 400 orthography-loving first- through fifth-graders from 18 schools competed in the scholarly skirmish, under the supervision of Fox 5 News anchor and event emcee Teresa Priolo and organizer the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation.

Andriel Martinez of PS 40 won the first-grade contest with the word “canopy,” Queens second-grader Sean York notched up a victory in his category for “wren,” Jaylene Razick from Bushwick’s PS 376 took home the third-grade trophy with “splurge,” and Queens pupils Taigh Montes and Nicholas Yu won the fourth- and fifth-grade contests respectively with the word “catalog.”

The self-assured Martinez was a particular hit with the home crowd, according to Hyman.

“He came out dripping in confidence — an ‘I’ve got all these words you’ve got nothing on me’ attitude,” he said. “Everyone loved him, he was having a great time.”

Even Hyman says he learned a thing or two from the experience when the word “mercer” came up in the list — the “Hamilton” fan thought it was just the name of Revolutionary War General Mercer, but discovered that a mercer is also a textile dealer.

“That was my new word of the day,” he said.

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.

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