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Boston's best speller earns trip to D.C.

By Emma Rose Johnson
Globe Correspondent / March 22, 2009
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For J. Rexon Apurado, victory is spelled "s-c-e-n-a-r-i-o."

Apurado, a fifth-grade pupil at Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Brighton, won first place yesterday in the second annual citywide spelling bee, hosted by Boston Centers for Youth & Families at Faneuil Hall.

Apurado won the championship after correctly spelling "scenario" and will be competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

Dressed in a coat and tie for the competition, Apurado said he devoted most of his time after school and on weekends to studying for the bee. He credited his teachers and tutors with his success.

When asked how he felt about winning it all, he said, simply, "Delightful."

The competition, which is for fourth- through eighth-grade students, had 21 contestants from Boston-area elementary and middle schools. All contestants had previously won bees at their own schools or were sponsored by community centers.

In second place was Andrea Reid, a seventh-grade student at Harbor School in Dorchester. Reid lost first place after being tripped up by the word "vulcanize." She said she had studied for several weeks for the competition, and was thrilled to have gotten second place.

"I didn't win first place, but I don't care," she said. "I'm just happy I got a trophy."

Third place was taken by Kashe Williams, a seventh-grader at Young Achievers Science and Mathematics Pilot School in Jamaica Plain.

Ann Siegel, a resource development manager at the Boston Centers and one of the coordinators of the bee, said the program began last year after coordinators realized that Boston had never sent competitors to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the largest and longest-running bee in the country. In a world of computerized spell check, Siegel said, spelling bees are a tradition that still has significant benefits to students today.

"It helps them practice discipline and engage in positive competition," she said. "We had last year's winner [Ross Garrity, a sixth-grade student sponsored by the Nazarro Community Center Bee in the North End] come up on stage to congratulate this year's winner. It's a really supportive group of kids."

Boston's bee has doubled in size since last year, according to Siegel, and its success is a tremendous source of pride.

"I'm so happy for them and how things turned out today," she said. "The kids are really well-prepared, and I think each year they get more used to the process of doing the bee. I'm so proud of their hard work."

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