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June 27, 2022

Students Compete for Honors in Spelling Bee

Hollister
– Twenty-two middle school students shifted in their seats
awaiting their first word at the 10th annual San Benito County
Spelling Championship.
Hollister – Twenty-two middle school students shifted in their seats awaiting their first word at the 10th annual San Benito County Spelling Championship.

But as the competition got going at Ladd Lane School Wednesday night, the words seemed to roll effortlessly. Alexandra Whorley, an eighth-grade Rancho San Justo School student, won this year’s middle school level competition with the word “humiliate.”

As a third-time county spelling bee champ, Alexandra Whorley is a battle-tested veteran.

“I wasn’t really that nervous at all today,” Alexandra Whorley said.

The Whorleys did well at both levels of this year’s spelling bee. Alexandra’s younger sister, Katherine Whorley, captured third place in the elementary school spelling competition.

The family spends many nights practicing spelling together. Their father, John Whorley, said it beats television.

Alexandra and Katherine Whorley’s mother, Jeanette, said everyone has reaped the benefits of seven competitions in four years.

“My spelling has improved so much in the last few years,” Jeanette Whorley said.

The top two contestants will represent San Benito County at the statewide competitions in May.

Along with Alexandra Whorley, Sacred Heart School eighth-grader Hina Moheyuddin will represent the county at the state middle school spelling bee in San Rafael, Calif.

Sacred Heart School student Cooper Scherr became the first fourth-grader ever to win the elementary school competition. Scherr and fellow Sacred Heart student Michael Breen will represent county elementary school students at the state competition at California State University at Sonoma.

Spelling bee organizers said both levels were competitive this year.

“One thing we did tonight was start with more advanced words than we did in the past,” said Michael O’Connor, a spelling bee judge.

Kim O’Connor, the spelling bee coordinator, said turnout for the preliminary written round was high. About 150 elementary school students and 70 middle school students vied to make the final cut for the county competition.

The bee gives students a different option for competition, Kim O’Connor said.

“They like the academic challenge,” Kim O’Connor said. “There’s not a lot offered in the way of academic competitions. It’s mostly sports.”

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