Area students moving to state Spanish spelling bee

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

Three students from eastern New Mexico will face their fears of getting up in front of a big crowd Saturday as well as the best Spanish spellers in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Spanish Spelling Bee competition is the ultimate goal for the student spellers who speak Spanish. The spelling bee is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque.

Seventh-graders Jessica LaValle, from Portales Junior High, will represent the Portales School District; Daina Gallegos, from Yucca Junior High, will represent Clovis; and Gabriel Chavez will represent Floyd.

LaValle, who spelled “volver” successfully to win the Portales competition, said she has been busy preparing for the event.

“I’ve been studying whenever I get free time,” LaValle said. “My friends have been helping me study. My parents told me I can study at home after I do my homework.”

LaValle said she will be traveling today to Albuquerque with her parents, Jesus and Maricela LaValle. She said they will make it a family trip and enjoy Albuquerque after the competition ends at 1 p.m.

Chavez edged out classmate Nallely Mendoza, runner-up, for first place in Floyd.

Chavez said his mother, Azucena Chavez, has been helping him study.

“I’ve been studying nights with my mom to get ready,” said Chavez, in his second year competing at the state level. “Even though I went last year, I’m still nervous. I did good last year.”

Chavez said he will be traveling with elementary principal Damon Terry, but wishes his mother could also make the trip.

The Spanish Spelling Bee is taking place as part of the 34th annual Bilingual Education Conference.

David Briseno, director of federal programs for the Clovis School District, is the executive director of the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education and will be in Albuquerque to help with the conference.