Nora Cullinan Wins Los Alamos County Spelling Bee

Los Alamos Middle School 8th grader Nora Cullinan wins the 2015 County Spelling Bee. Courtesy photo

First Place Speller Nora Cullinan, center, with  Second Place Speller Olivia Koo, right, and Third Place Speller Sruthi Garimella. Courtesy photo

Eighteen local students participate at Chamisa Tuesday evening in the 2015 County Spelling Bee. Courtesy photo

S-p-e-l-l-i-n-g Does Count

Eighteen talented students from the Los Alamos elementary schools and Los Alamos Middle School were at Chamisa Tuesday evening for the 2015 County Spelling Bee.

Over the last several months, the students have been attending school Word Clubs for practice through listening, writing and pronouncing thousands of words that could have been used in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and learning to think through the surprises. Most of the contestants are avid readers as well.

Spelling Bee Winners:

  • First Place Speller and our New Mexico Spelling Bee representative is Nora Cullinan, an 8th grader at Los Alamos Middle School. The winning word was “hippopotamus.”
  • Second Place Speller Olivia Koo is a 5th grader at Barranca, and
  • Third-Place Speller is Sruthi Garimella, a 7th grader.

The last rounds with five talented spellers, also included Philip Ionkov, a 5th grader at Aspen and Hannah Gartz, a 6th grader from Pinon. Supporting the spellers were families, friends and teachers who clapped, laughed and cheered-on all of the contestants.

Spelling Bees have been in operation across the United States since 1925, with now-famous Scripps sponsorship beginning in 1941. Bees had been in place for many years when I came here in 1971, and the smooth operation of the contest has been dependent on school-level coordinators, a school district facilitator, and supportive judges from throughout the county.

Tuesday evening’s judges were Los Alamos Schools Foundation member Morris Pongratz and Los Alamos Police Commander Oliver Morris. Los Alamos High School science teacher Debbie Grothaus acted as emcee and recorder with her daughter Mary Grothaus timing each speller. I’ve had the excitement of pronouncing for several elementary bees and this evening. State Farm Agents Abe Dispennette and now-retired Sue Hofmann have helped support the County Bee for many years.

Fall’s coming and Scripps Spelling Bee will be back in operation at the Los Alamos Schools. S-t-a-r-t p-r-a-c-t-i-c-i-n-g!