Can you spell winner?
Sofia Caravello can, especially after taking the top spot in the Allen Elementary School annual spelling bee last month.
Nearly 40 fifth grade students filled the school’s cafeteria to compete in the hour-long spelling bee, sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Medford. Caravello was joined by Riley Kelly of Kirby’s Mill Elementary and Lilly Richardson from Cranberry Pines, who placed second and third, respectively.
The three students will move on to the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Club (NJSFWC) Garden District Bee in February. Students Jack Paetzold and Rocco Tucci of Allen School were designated as alternates for the event, if any of the three winners is unable to attend.
The perfect spelling of holiday rolled off Caravello’s tongue, earning her the Allen bee crown.
“It was stressful, but really fun because it was fun to spell the word,” she recalled.
When the competition came down to Caravello and Kelly, the former missed a few letters on parakeet and was nervous spelling a “word that had a Y in it.” Leading up to the bee, the fifth grader said she studied the list given to her by breaking down the words into smaller parts such as “Con, Cen, Trate.”
To her delight, she avoided the words lieutenant and bureaucracy. Caravello’s mother, Mary, admitted she was nervous for her daughter as the competition thinned, but proud of her confidence during the event and when studying at home.
“There was a list of possible words and she would take turns asking me to spell them and I would take turns asking her to spell them,” she noted of her daughter. “Most of time, she would get them right and I did not get mine right.
“I think she picked the hardest ones for me.”
Mary added that Sofia had an advantage in her ability to visualize words and associate an image with each one.
“I don’t have that ability,” Mary quipped. “Or I rely on my computer.”
Sofia lent words of encouragement to peers who weren’t successful, noting that spelling bees are stressful. To prepare, she recited a word she loves spelling.
“Family. F-A-M-I-L-Y,” Sofia said without missing a beat. “Because I love my family.”