Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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By Herald Staff

Dennis Township students and families recently enjoyed a double-header event at the Elementary School: Meatball Madness and the Spelling Bee. Both events were sponsored by the Dennis Township Education Association Pride Committee and the Dennis Township Municipal Alliance and brought in 75 student contestants ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade as well as an estimated 150 family members to cheer them on.
Sixteen students battled it out in the K-2 division, with 2nd graders Chris Roethmel taking first place, Emilia Hueller taking second place and Isabella Philips taking third. These brave students were the first contestants ever to participate from the Primary School and they spelled their way through an amazing 130 words with Roethmel claiming victory with the word “chef”. Announcer Holly Robinson and judges Kasey Eykyn, Greta Liston and Dave Gonnam all commented on how well the students handled themselves.
Forty elementary level spellers worked their magic in the 3-5 division, with 4th grader Kailyn Jamison conquering the field by correctly spelling “manifestation”. 5th grader Jimmy Pickering took second place followed by 4th grader Caitlin McGurk and 5th grader Brendan Zeiglar in a long-lasting, hard-fought challenge. KelliLynn Turner announced the words while judges Ina Sharkey, Camille Berardis and Jen Hand confirmed student spelling.
Nineteen middle schoolers stepped up and swung for the fences in the 6-8 division, with a final four-way tie finally broken by winning 8th grader Noah Fatale. His fellow finalists included 7th grader Isabella Roache and 8th graders Anthony Herouvis and Narcisse Cortez-Lopez. Fatale, fatigued after 172 words, won with “onslaught”. Announcer Cindy Leatherwood, also fatigued after 172 words, agreed with judges Kathy Pittaluga, Betteann Kerr and Dennis Township Committeeman Brian O’Connor that the battle was hard-fought for first place.
This year the Spelling Bee was held in conjunction with the first annual Meatball Madness competition, organized by the DTEA Pride Committee. Kim Holman, Pride Committee chair, states, “We wanted to bring in families for a fun, food-based event that we could tie into the Spelling Bee so we could get both students and families to participate and enjoy the competition.” Ten teachers and parents volunteered to compete and brought in crockpots full of simmering, meaty goodness to share with the community.
The tasters voted and Carlos Covarrubias won first place followed by Meghan Powell in second and Lisa Bariana in third.
Dr. Joseph LaRosa, Jr., Dennis Township Elementary and Middle School principal, believes that community-based academic events are important in supporting student growth. “When we have students of all ages having fun with spelling, or math, or science, or any other academic subject, along with their families and friends, those students enjoy the experience and they carry that with them through school,” he states, adding that Kim Holman and the Pride Committee did a wonderful job.

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