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Teachers, students buzz about bee

Students from four Tigard-Tualatin schools will compete in Saturday's regional spelling bee

For early literacy coordinator Sheri LeDrew the word that she remembers is 'macaroni.'

It transports her back to the fourth grade when she reigned shortly as the spelling bee champ. That was before being knocked out of competition by the dreaded pasta word. She either put one too many 'Cs' or one too many 'Ns' in the word. Either way she lost.

'I still can't spell it,' LeDrew admitted of the word that has haunted her since childhood. But it's a memory she wouldn't trade.

This Saturday, LeDrew will accompany fourth-grade Durham Elementary School student Mihir Paralkar to the fifth annual Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd., in Portland.

Ten-year-old Paralkar will be one of the youngest students competing in the annual spelling bee, which draws most of its participants from middle schools in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. The bee is also open to spellers from alternative and home school programs.

The winner of the bee will compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., this May.

The three middle schools in the Tigard-Tualatin School District are also each sending a student to the spelling competition. Maria Amanda Flores, a sixth grader from Hazelbrook Middle School; Diana Delgado, a sixth grader from Fowler Middle School; and Mark Toda, a sixth grader from Twality Middle School will all be competing.

And like Paralkar, Delgado and Toda are all described by their sponsoring teachers as just being good spellers and calm under pressure.

Paralkar's family has a tradition of spelling champs. His sister, Manali, placed third in the spelling bee last year. And Paralkar had to beat out his own twin brother for the chance to compete in Saturday's bee.

Toda is an avid reader. His teacher Jennifer Puhl thinks it's his passion for the written word that makes spelling come so easy to him.

Delgado surprised more than a few teachers with her win. While other students gathered in after school activities to learn word origins before the school spelling bee, Delgado never attended the group sessions. But she won the school competition against 18 other students.

Teacher Susan McCormick finds Delgado to be an interesting girl and quick learner for spelling.

McCormick is a big supporter of spelling bees. She was responsible for getting Fowler Middle School involved with the regional bee last year. McCormick wants to pass on a childhood filled with good memories of spelling competitions.

For McCormick the word she missed in the fourth grade spelling bee was 'yellow.'

'I only said one 'L,'' McCormick said. 'I missed an 'L.''