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When spelling is smooth as honey
Two RHMS students stand out through 20 rounds of competition
BeeDictionary 3718
Richmond Hill Middle School seventh-grader Callista Villagomez and eighth-grader Niko Stamper sit with a dictionary in the school media center, where they took first and second place, respectively, in the spelling bee last week. - photo by Crissie Elric

Callista Villagomez didn’t expect her nickname to become “Miss Lizard.”

But that’s what fellow Richmond Hill Middle School students call the seventh-grader after she spelled “lizard” to win the school spelling bee recently.

“People will come up to me and ask ‘was lizard really the winning word?’” she said with a laugh. “My whole class calls me ‘Miss Lizard’ now and I can’t live it down.”

The spelling bee, held Jan. 11, brought 48 classroom winners to the media center where they spelled words like “dramaturgy,” “resuscitable,” “miscible” and others to advance to the final round.

Spelling bee coordinator and RHMS media specialist Martha Coffield said she was very impressed with all the spellers.

“I was seated on pins and cushions — it was unbelievable the words they were spelling,” Coffield said.

After 20 rounds of competition, Villagomez was declared the winner after spelling “tiniest” and “lizard” correctly.

But what is ironic, Coffield said, is that Villagomez and spelling bee alternate, eighth-grader Niko Stamper, spelled “hard words” and had trouble with easier words.

Villagomez said the hardest word she remembered spelling was “astrophysicist,” and Stamper said the hardest word he spelled was “niche” because he pronounced it different when practicing.

But even though Villagomez won, it didn’ mean she wasn’t intimidated, she said.

Villagomez said Stamper was also a great speller and made her a little nervous.

“When we started spelling, he (Stamper) would tap his leg — and that was really intimidating,” she said.

Stamper, who said he was just there to spell and have a good time, enjoyed the bee and was excited to be there.

“I really got in the rhythm and was definitely ready to spell,” he said.

Read more in the Jan. 18 edition of the News.

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