Students shine at spelling bee


ST. PETERSBURG — Childs Park YMCA (CPY) held its annual Achieving Great Things Community Spelling Bee Thurs., July 21in their multipurpose room located at 691 43rd St. S.

This year’s participants came from the Childs Park YMCA Academic Summer Camp, the Harbordale Y-Achievers Summer Camp and even hungry minds from the community participated. Spellers ranged from preschoolers to fifth graders, but their spelling words were based on the grades they will be entering for the 2016-17 year.

“So those kindergartners were really Pre-K students who attended a really best kept secret summer camp,” said Deborah Figgs-Sanders, executive director of CPY.

In all, 54 students participated, and whether the word was spelled correctly or incorrectly, parents cheered each contestant as if they were graduating high school.

“I want to thank all of my ‘fantabulous’ students that participated in this year’s bee. A lot of you grownups couldn’t have gotten up here and done this,” said Figgs-Sanders.

And with words such as “dyslexia” and “zucchini,” she was probably right.

“This is always extremely important,” said Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers. “We know that we want to continue to encourage our children in our community. They are smart, they are bright and yes, they can read.”

Flowers, who usually calls the spelling words out to the students, had to sit this year out because her grandson was a participant.  She joined School Board member Terry Krassner in the front row encouraging each student to do his or her best.

The YMCA campers 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.

This year’s judges included Barbara Singer, Bardmoor YMCA Advisory Council Member, Stephen Thomas, director of Community Engagement at the Tampa Bay Rays, Dr. Antonio Burt, director of School Leadership, Pinellas County Schools and retire educator Joan McDonald.

2016 Winners


1st – Elijah Cabassa

2nd – Zuri Warren

3rd – Amier Atkins


1st – Avery Taylor

2nd – Samuel Johnson

3rd – Deandre Bailey


1st – Alryah Johnson

2nd – Brian Watkins

3rd – Lamonte Baker


1st – Angelo Sprillo

2nd – Braelyn Brinson

3rd – Marley Poole


1st – Mikal Morris

2nd – Simayah Mclntosh

3rd – Jordan Moore


1st – Alexander Taylor

2nd – Tylia West

3rd – Amaiya Washington


1st – Laci Brown

2nd – Antonio Dixon

3rd – Kayianna Hughes

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