Philly’s kids are s-m-a-r-t

Young stu­dents from all over the city gathered, and dazzled, in Fishtown on Fri­day at the 11th an­nu­al Fishtown Spelling Bee.

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 sne­w­

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