Rossi wins SJIHM spelling bee


SJIHM spelling bee winners and supporters gathered after their long competition to show the fruits of their labor. The back row includes principal John Rozzo (left), father Ken Miller, and spelling bee moderator Rich Morgan. The front row includes champion speller Dante Rossi (left), runner-up Kaelyn Puhalla, junior division runner-up Nathan Leskovac, and junior division winner Maggie Carrier (right).


Neighbors | Sarah Foor .The junior division spellers were asked to say hello to the crowd before the competition began. Although he didn't end up winning, Dominic Tunno (left) excitedly said hello to everyone as his fellow junior division spellers Seth Cavalier, Maggie Carrier, Nathan Leskovac, Riley Burke, and Brian Royea (right) looked on.


SJIHM's senior division spellers, who will represent the school in the The Vindicator regional spelling bee, looked happy to receive their awards after being locked in a spelling showdown for half an hour. Dante Rossi (left) took first place, and Kaelyn Puhalla took second.


Second-grader Maggie Carrier put her skills to the test as she spelled "chase" to breeze through another round of the SJIHM spelling bee. Carrier won the school's junior division title by spelling "draw" and "straw."


Seventh-grader Kaelyn Puhalla took her time to spell "nosiest" during SJIHM's senior division spelling bee. The care she used in her spelling helped her advance to the final round of spelling until she was defeated by Dante Rossi (right).


Although spelling “toucan” and “ominous” correctly won seventh-grader Dante Rossi first place at St. Joseph and Immaculate Heart of Mary’s annual spelling bee, there was first a half-hour battle of wits with runner-up Kaelyn Puhalla to cilnch his title.

The SJIHM spelling bee was divided into junior and senior divisions and moderated by WKBN weathercaster Rich Morgan, with the winner of the senior division heading to The Vindicator’s regional bee on March 19.

The junior division match was a short face-off, with many of the first- to third-graders tripping on words like pail and whose, that sound the same as words with different spellings. Second-grader Maggie Carrier won the junior division by spelling draw and straw, and is SJIHM’s second alternate for the regional bee.

Spellers in the senior division were eliminated in just 15 minutes, until only Rossi and Puhalla remained for a battle that lasted for 30 minutes. When victory seemed near with Rossi’s correct spelling of aristocracy, Puhalla countered with obstinate, until both stumbled on mantilla and the round began again.

After both stumbled through libretto, prosaic, sayonara, obsequious and filibuster, Rossi finally won the title with toucan and ominous.

“The fact that you came here to compete makes you all winners,” said principal John Rozzo after the long road to the finish.

“I studied 1,000 words to prepare for our spelling bee. It looks like I’ll bump that up to 10,000 for the regional,” said Rossi.

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