The annual Curry County district school spelling bee took place Saturday at Texico Elementary School with 10 students from five Curry County schools competing.
Schools competing included James Bickley, Zia Elementary, Yucca Junior High, Texico Elementary and Texico Junior High.
Jody Burrage, a teacher on the James Bickley spelling bee committee, said this year was the first time they allowed both the first and second place winners from each school to enter the district spelling bee rather than just the first place winner, allowing all the schools to have two representatives at the district competition.
Fourth through eighth-graders competed.
Aliyah Garcia, a fourth-grader from James Bickley Elementary in Clovis, won first place and Whitney Scabelund, a sixth grader from Texico Junior High, took second place.
Garcia won the James Bickley spelling bee, which took place Wednesday. She and James Bickley second place winner, Cameron Bailey, a fifth-grader, went on to the district competition in Texico.
James Bickley Principal Carlos Carrillo said this is the first time one of his students has won the district competition.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Carrillo said. “We’re going celebrate. She deserves it. She’s an excellent student and she works hard.”
Tayna Quiroz, Garcia’s mother, said the entire family has been helping Garcia study for the competition by quizzing her almost every night at home.
“Me and her dad are so proud of her,” Quiroz said. “She came home with the list and we never expected it to go this far. She gets up there and spells those words like she’s known them forever.”
Garcia said at the end of the competition, she was one of three competitors left.
“I almost jumped out of my seat when I knew I won,” Garcia said. “I wanted to see what I could accomplish. I’ve never won anything.”
Carrillo said Garcia’s picture will be on the school’s website and in their newsletter.
“She’s a celebrity now,” Carrillo said, laughing.
Garcia said she plans to compete in more spelling bee competitions in the future and hopes to compete in the district competition again next year.
“I feel excited,” Garcia said. “Even my mom and dad feel excited. The whole family is.”
As winner of the district competition, Garcia will represent Curry County in the Albuquerque Journal/Newspapers In Education New Mexico Bee, which will be held 9 a.m. March 12 at the Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque.