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NYCHA Citywide Spelling Bee

NYCHA Youth Showcase Skills in 2nd Annual Spelling Bee

How do you spell V-I-C-T-O-R-Y? Just ask any one of the proud first and second place winners of the New York City Housing Authority’s 2nd Annual Citywide Spelling Bee.

More than 1,200 students from NYCHA Community Centers throughout the city competed for the chance to represent their borough at the citywide competition on May 9th at the Bronxdale Community Center in the Bronx. A total of 30 students: 10 fourth graders, 10 fifth graders and 10 sixth graders from each borough went on to compete in the Spelling Bee.

2007 Spelling Bee Contestants
Young contestants feel the pressure at the Citywide Spelling Bee
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

The room was filled with nervous energy from the young contestants who pondered over such words as "inaugural," "assassination," and "comedian." At stake were $500 savings bonds for the first place winners, courtesy of Amerigroup Community Care, shiny golden trophies for all of the winners, and most important of all: bragging rights for being the top speller at their Community Center.

"The kids who participate in the Spelling Bee sweat it out just like the kids in the sporting events," said NYCHA Creative Arts Unit Manager, Juan Santiago. Participation in the Spelling Bee is perfect for kids who don’t want to play sports, added NYCHA Citywide Programs Deputy Director, Ukah Busgith, because it encourages academic as opposed to athletic competition.

2007 Citywide Spelling Bee Winners
Back row (L-R) Mecca Snipe, Janea Fall, Neseemah Coleman, and Precious Williamson
Front row (L-R) Tiyanna Evans, Eddie Jones
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

Three of the six Spelling Bee champions hail from Brooklyn, including first place winner, Neseemah Coleman, a fifth grader from Boulevard Community Center, who won for correctly spelling the word, "perpendicular"; sixth grade, first place winner, Mecca Snipe of Sumner Community Center, who correctly spelled the word, "diplomacy"; and sixth grade runner up, Precious Williamson of Cypress Hills Community Center. Mecca Snipe is a two time champion in the NYCHA Annual Spelling Bee, having won first place as a fifth grader in last year’s competition.

Fifth grade runner up Tiyanna Evans of Ravenswood Community Center and fourth grade runner up Eddie Jones of Ocean Bay Community Center proudly represented for the borough of Queens. And fourth grader, Janea Fall of the St. Nicholas Community Center in Manhattan won the sole prize for the island borough when she claimed first prize for correctly spelling the word, "customer."

2007 Citywide Spelling Bee
More than 1,200 children competed for 30 spots in the Citywide Spelling Bee
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

Spurred by the success of the first and second annual Spelling Bees, NYCHA staff and administrators are gearing up for the third annual competition. "We’re thinking of possibly expanding it to seventh and eighth graders next year," says NYCHA Educational Services Unit Manager, D’Andra Van Heusen.

Any child who is a participating member of a NYCHA Community Center is eligible to compete in the borough-wide competition, where children from various community centers within a borough compete for the honor of being one of two students to represent their borough at the citywide competition. Borough level competitions begin in March, so please contact the Community Center nearest you.

By Tischelle George
May 16, 2007