Over 102 participants from second through eighth grades tested their prowess Friday at the 11th annual Fishtown Spelling Bee. The kids displayed their talent for spelling complex, multi-syllabic and unique words.
“How many of you watch television? How many of you watch video games?” A.J. Thomson, 36, a Fishtown native and the president of Friends of Penn Treaty Park asked the kids at the beginning of the spelling bee. “Well, when you grow up, you’re not going to remember playing video games or watching television. What you’re going to remember is this stuff – spelling, the stuff you’re learning in school.”
Students came from many schools including Saint Laurentius, Saint Peter the Apostle, Saint George, New Foundations Charter, Franklin Towne Charter, La Salle Academy, Friends Select School, Alexander Adaire School, Mother of Divine Grace, and St. Peter’s. The bee took place at the Schissler Recreation Center, 1800-56 Blair St.
Competition was co-ed, and was broken into the following age levels: grades two to four, grades five and six and grades seven and eight. Winners were determined in each of those divisions, and received a pizza party for their schools.
The winners were: Vic Torres of Saint Peter the Apostle in the 2nd through 4th grade division; Renee Peterman of Mother of Divine Grace in the 5th and 6th grade division, and John Smith of Saint Laurentius in the 7th and 8th grade division.
“It’s great that it’s promoting the value of education,” said Tina Dougherty, of Port Richmond, who was at the spelling bee with her son, a fourth-grader at Friends Select School.
“We missed it last year, so this is our first year,” said Tanya Richam-Odoi, 36, from West Philly, who was in attendance with her son, 11-year-old Christopher, in sixth grade at La Salle. “We like anything to bring education to kids.
The competition was judged by Philadelphia Municipal Court judge, Hon. Charles Hayden.
“If you’re good to kids on the front end, you don’t have to worry about kids on the back end,” Hayden said of his reason for participating. He said that he participated in a spelling bee as a kid that he still remembers well.
Thomson works as a prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office. He first organized the spelling bee 11 years ago to promote education and help bring the community together. This year, he was rooting for his own daughter, second-grader Julia.
The Penn Treaty Special Services District also helped fund the spelling bee. Ted Breslin of the PTSSD was there as well, rooting for his daughter, seventh-grader Bernadette. He said he was amazed by how well the students can spell.
“You’d be surprised. Some of these kids are really sharp,” he said.
Reporter Sam Newhouse can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.