La Casa Hispánica hosts spelling bee, raises money for service project

Geneseo's Spanish Club – La Casa Hispánica – held its first Spanish spelling bee on Wednesday Nov. 30 in Newton Hall. Each contestant was given a word to spell using the letters of the Spanish alphabet. They had one chance to respell the word if they thought they had made a mistake by raising their hand to get the attention of the judges: Rose McEwen, chair of the foreign languages and literatures department, Spanish professor Joaquín Gómez and Spanish professor Lori Bernard.

The bee lasted six rounds, with the final round consisting of a face-off between the two remaining contestants: senior Laura Darmstadt and sophomore Matt Pechman. After an extended back and forth between the two Darmstadt spelled her given word, azotea, correctly, beating out Pechman, who took second place. Since prizes were given out for the top three placing contestants, the four competitors who were eliminated from the previous round battled in a sudden death for third place. Eventually, senior Bruna Garcia claimed the third-place spot.

The contest was divided into six levels, or niveles, of words to spell. Nivel uno had the least challenging words such as leche, amor and barato. The levels increased in difficulty until nivel seis with words like lagartija, zurcir and zanquilargo.

Each guest and contestant was given a raffle ticket at the beginning of the event, and the raffle draw was held after the conclusion of the spelling bee. Prizes included gift certificates to Mama Mia's, Pizza Paul's, Geneseo Family Restaurant and Swain Sports, as well as the grand prize of an iPod shuffle. The prizes were given out to a variety of competitors, guests and Spanish club members.

Entrance to compete in the bee cost $2 and a portion of this revenue will be donated to a service project in El Sauce, Nicaragua. A program through Geneseo allows students to travel down to El Sauce where they complete community service in the area. The club also collected school supplies to send down to a local school for the children.

 "We've definitely started a new tradition for Spanish club," sophomore Vice President Bobby Hannah said. With high attendance, good energy and solid sportsmanship throughout the event, the Spanish spelling bee this semester deemed itself a success. "It was a lot of work, but everything fell into place," Hannah said.