John Mills, Elmwood Students Impress at 2019 District Spelling Bee

Nico Di Naso and his parents celebrate after the Elmwood 6th grader won the 2019 District 401 Spelling Bee.

John Mills 6th graders Kathleen Castillo, Jayden Sanchez, Natalia Ciura and Marcielo Addun are all smiles after a strong showing at the 2019 District 401 Spelling Bee. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Nico Di Naso, a 6th grader at Elmwood Elementary School, won the 2019 Elmwood Park District 401 Spelling Bee on Thursday, Jan. 24.

The contest took place at Elmwood as competitors from the District’s two elementary schools demonstrated their spelling skills before a large audience of classmates, parents and community members in the school gym.

Steven Rodriguez, also an Elmwood 6th grader, finished as runner-up. He and Nico were the only students to reach the 15th round, when Nico correctly spelled "honesty" to clinch the title.

The event featured 28 contestants selected from grades 4-6 at Elmwood and John Mills Elementary School. The students were the top 14 spellers at their respective schools based on the results of preliminary qualifying tests. (Scroll down this page to show a listing of all students who qualified for the contest.)

For just the second time, the District's winning student received a trophy. The award will be housed for the next year at Elmwood, Nico’s home school. 

The custom of awarding a trophy to the winner began at last year’s competition, when Andrew Ticao of John Mills won his third consecutive title. (Andrew is now a 7th grader at Elm Middle School.)

The judges for this year’s contest were Special Education Coordinator Ms. Sara Barrick, instructional coach Ms. Morgan Freeck and Early Childhood Center Principal Mr. Kevin Seibel. The official pronouncer was Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicolas Wade.

Board of Education President Mrs. Mary Bruscato and Elmwood Park Police Chief Mr. Frank Fagiano were among the audience members.


Elmwood Principal Mr. Matthew Lerner welcomes students, parents and guests to the 2019 District 401 Spelling Bee. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicolas Wade, the event's official pronouncer, is seated to the left. District 401 photo by Dave Porreca (click image for larger view).

PHOTO: Elmwood Principal Mr. Matthew Lerner welcomes participants and audience members to the 2019 District Spelling Bee. Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade, the competition's official pronouncer, is seated at left. Click image for larger view (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca).


The event as a whole was administered by Elmwood Assistant Principal Ms. Stephanie Hagins, with logistics for John Mills handled by the school’s principal, Ms. Laura Magruder

The Elmwood and John Mills teams were each coached by Ms. Annina Wanzung, District 401’s enrichment teacher for grades K-6.

"Students at Mills had a formal practice with me once a week before the school day started," Ms. Wanzung said. "Students at Elmwood had a formal practice with me once a week after school. Aside from formal practice, students studied at their convenience at home. Practices ran for a little over a month."

The District-level contest was the beginning of a multi-stage selection process that will choose participants nationwide for the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee, scheduled for May 27-30 in National Harbor, Md.

Nico will now advance to the West Suburban Cook County Bee, to be held Feb. 4 at McClure Junior High School in Western Springs.

"I am very pleased with the outcome of this event," Ms. Wanzung said. "Logistically, everything seemed to flow appropriately —  i.e., time management, transportation, the general organization of persons involved."

Ms. Wanzung noted that more students seemed to last longer in the competition than in recent years.

"To me, that goes to show the teams’ study skills and tenacity to succeed," she said. "I am also pleased with the level of positive, supportive sportsmanship from each team and each school. All said and done, I am so proud of our Elmwood Park community and the spellers specifically."

Congratulations to Nico, Steven and everyone who competed in this year's event!


Spelling Bee competitors from Elmwood and John Mills surround the victory trophy after Elmwood 6th graders Nico Di Naso and Steve Rodriguez won first and second place, respectively.

PHOTO: Spelling Bee competitors from Elmwood and John Mills surround the victory trophy after Elmwood 6th graders Nico Di Naso (looking at camera) and Steven Rodriguez (No. 14) won first and second place, respectively. Click image for larger view (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca).


2019 District 401 Spelling Bee Qualifiers


ELMWOOD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

JOHN MILLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Diana Arias

6th grade

Eliana Abellera

6th grade

Nico Di Naso

6th grade

Marcielo Addun

6th grade

Sean Johnson

6th grade

Kathleen Castillo

6th grade

Lundin Morris

6th grade

Miguel Castorena

6th grade

Steven Rodriguez

6th grade

Natalia Ciura

6th grade

Weronika Walaszek

6th grade

Alessandra Lopez

6th grade

Kelly Dietrich

5th grade

Matt Pritt

6th grade

Justus Escarpita

5th grade

Jayden Sanchez

6th grade

Matthew Harvath

5th grade

Sibora Tace

6th grade

Anthony Huaman

5th grade

Steve Alvarenga

5th grade

Brian Wator

5th grade

Zoe Ove

5th grade

Max Ziuzia

5th grade

Jillian Hayes

4th grade

Jade Ponce

4th grade

Nathanael Reyes

4th grade

Mel Rubio

4th grade

Alex Sabev

4th grade


Photos from the 2019 District Spelling Bee


The following photos were taken by District 401 web/media specialist Dave Porreca at this year's District 401 Spelling Bee, which was held Thursday, Jan. 24, in the school gym at Elmwood Elementary. Click any image for a larger view.


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


2019 Spelling Bee


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