Liberty Bell student's love of books helps secure spelling bee win

Brandon Paykamian • Feb 13, 2020 at 8:42 AM

Liberty Bell Middle School eighth-grader Bianca Cielo came out on top at Wednesday’s annual Johnson City Schools Spelling Bee after early eliminations in which students misspelled “creak,” “bizarre,” and “facade.” 

Within a matter of minutes, the competition came down to Cielo, Mountain View Elementary School fourth-grader Cara Haynes and South Side Elementary School fourth-grader Alexis Bayard. 

Cielo advanced after correctly spelling “vinyl” before Haynes tripped up on “ensconce,” putting an “a” in the place of the “o.” After that, Bayard accidentally put an extra “l” in “scholar.” 

That left Cielo with perhaps the simplest word she was asked to spell, “discover.” With that, she won the spelling bee, and Haynes and Bayard were named runner-ups. 

But Cielo was expecting to encounter more challenging words, and she didn’t expect to win with a word like “discover.”

She said she practiced a lot for the competition. She even prepared for the bee by brushing up on Latin etymology.

Cielo also made sure to ask how to use words in a sentence in the case of encountering homophones like “creak,” which could also be spelled as “creek.” 

Despite her win, Cielo stayed humble. She said the other students also did well and overcame their nervousness. 

“They all seemed really nervous, and I was, too. I guess it was practicing with my friends (that helped me advance),” she said. “I’m not sure I really had an advantage over them.”

Cielo said reading is what helps students do well in spelling bees. 

“I’ll just read what I can,” she said, adding that she reads almost every genre of literature. 

To compete at Wednesday’s district spelling bee held at Liberty Bell, students had to win spelling bees at their schools before advancing.

Other contestants in Wednesday’s annual spelling bee were Cherokee Elementary School fourth-grader Adrianna Temple, Fairmont Elementary School fourth-grader Cole Watson, Lake Ridge Elementary School fourth-grader Camden Day, North Side Elementary School fourth-grader Yhania Robertson, Towne Acres Elementary School fourth-grader Dikshaa Bhonde, Woodland Elementary School fourth-grader Emma Clark and Indian Trail Intermediate School fifth-grader Blythe Hart.

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