April 14, 2005
Thirteen-year-old Sofia Burgoso still struggles with speaking and spelling in English. But in her native language, Burgoso won top honors in the Scottsdale Unified School District’s annual "Torneo de Ortografía," which is Spanish for spelling bee.
Burgoso’s family moved to Scottsdale from Chile three months ago, and improving her English has been a priority, she said. During the past few weeks, she also has spent many hours practicing how to spell Spanish words with her mother and father.
The hardest word she spelled was "holgazán," or "lazy," to win the upper-grade level of Tuesday’s competition, she said.
Gloria Díaz, who works for the district and helped to organize the event at Coronado High School, said the Spanish bee is one way for schools to encourage English learners not to forget their own language.
"The families want them to participate — they want to keep the language," she said.
Fifteen schools held their own bees earlier this semester, and winners were sent to the district bee. Many of the competitors were native Spanish speakers, but a few students learning Spanish also participated, Díaz said.
Spellers competed in their respective levels in various classrooms. In the school’s auditorium, the annual Festival of Cultures event entertained family members and classmates.
A group of dancers from the school — the Latin "DON"cers — performed a traditional Sinaloan dance and showed off their moves to modern salsa music. The school’s chorus sang an Israeli song, and preschoolers from Hohokam Elementary School sang two songs in English and Spanish. Coronado student Crystal Harris performed a Navajo dance, and members of the Yaqui tribe performed a ceremonial dance.
The Korean Angels Choir, made up of little children with big voices, also sang several songs in both English and Korean.
The goal of the event is to celebrate the diverse cultural backgrounds of students at Scottsdale schools, said Lisa Zirbel, one of the event’s coordinators.