No summer learning loss here!


ST. PETERSBURG — Childs Park YMCA (CPY) held its annual Achieving Great Things Community Spelling Bee Thurs., July 23 in their multipurpose room located at 691 43rd St. S.

The room was packed with proud but nervous parents all waiting in anticipation for their child’s number to be called to step up to the microphone. The walk up to the microphone was only a few feet, but with a room full of people watching their every move, it no doubt felt like a mile.

This year’s children came from the Childs Park YMCA Academic Summer Camp, the Harbordale Y-Achievers Summer Camp and even hungry minds from the community. The spelling word lists were available for pick up at both the Childs Park and Johnson Branch library locations.

“The CPY participants spent time reviewing the words and actually watched the movie “Akeelah and the Bee,” to see how a real Spelling Bee works and the rigor of preparation it takes to be successful,” said Executive Director of the Childs Park YMCA Deborah D. Figgs-Sanders.

These young ones were academically focused throughout the summer, and this spelling bee was a way to showcase their talents. The summer camps supports lessons learned from the previous school year and prepares the children for the next.

And prepared is exactly what these kids were. You could see it in their eyes as they sauntered across the stage. They were prepared for whatever words were thrown at them.

Doing the “word throwing” this year was Pinellas County School Board Member Rene Flowers who also served as mistress of ceremonies. This year she kept the cheating to a minimum, but still could be heard saying the words phonetically.

Figgs-Sanders said that CPY students spend hours upon hours reading both independently and in reading teams where two students read aloud to each other. Her younger campers are being taught phonetically and they sound out words that help with spelling.

“Every child in the CPY camp is asked to participate. The more they participate, the easier it is hoped to be able to speak in front of an audience,” she concluded.

2015 Winners


  • 1st – Malia Cromartie
  • 2nd – Desire Register
  • 3rd  – Kenadi Smith

First Grade

  • 1st – Jayla Goddard
  • 2nd – Nathan Paul
  • 3rd – Aliya Hitchcock

Second Grade

  • 1st – Malayna Mallory
  • 2nd – Amari Hazley
  • 3rd – Owen Cagle

Third Grade

  • 1st – Jeremiah Phillips
  • 2nd – Amaiya Washington
  • 3rd – Makayla Miller

Fourth Grade

  • 1st – Michael Davis
  • 2nd – Laci Brown
  • 3rd – Jaden Goddard

Fifth & Sixth Grades

  • 1st – Imani Pennywell
  • 2nd – Makayla Webster
  • 3rd – Marissa Baney

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