Imperial Valley Home School Academy seventh-grader Jaedillene Laurino was recognized on Monday, March 22, by the Imperial County Office of Education for winning the 16th annual Imperial County Spelling Bee. | JULIO MORALES PHOTO

County Spelling Bee Winner Recognized

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EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Office of Education recognized Jaedillene Laurino, the winner of the 16th annual Imperial County Spelling Bee, during a brief awards ceremony on Monday, March 22 at its offices in El Centro.

The seventh-grade Imperial Valley Home School Academy student bested 26 students from 14 local schools by correctly spelling “effervescent” during the March 16 competition.

Imperial Valley Home School Academy seventh-grader Jaedillene Laurino, 13, of Brawley poses with her family during a ceremony honoring her for winning the 16th annual Imperial County Spelling Bee. The ceremony took place in front of the Imperial County Office of Education offices on Monday, March 22. | JULIO MORALES PHOTO

“It was kind of exhilarating and exciting for me,” Jaedillene said on Monday about her being named the county’s top speller.

While Jaedillene said she doesn’t consider herself a highly competitive person, she does enjoy reading and, depending on the assignment, writing. 

For her win, Jaedillene was presented with a trophy and several certificates of recognition during the ceremony ICOE hosted in her honor.

The 12-year-old Brawley resident is now qualified to participate in the preliminary round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, to be held virtually in June.

The 10 to 12 of the nation’s top spellers who advance to the national Spelling Bee’s final round will gather at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., on July 8. The final round will be televised live on ESPN2.

Jaedillene was the first student in the 11-year history of the Imperial Valley Home School Academy to compete in the county Spelling Bee, said Principal Murrie Plourd, who was on hand on Monday at the ICOE office to present Jaedillene with a bouquet of flowers.

“In it to win it,” Plourd said, referring to Jaedillene. “She’s a dynamo.”

COVID-19 had prompted the cancellation of last year’s Spelling Bee, and this year’s competition drew fewer participating students and schools than in years prior, said Janet Estrada, ICOE curriculum coordinator.

Seeley Elementary sixth-grader Nolan Baxley was the runner-up for the county Spelling Bee.

The 16th annual Imperial County Spelling Bee was the third time that Holtville Middle School seventh-grader Isaiah Bañuelos has competed against his peers at the county level.

The 13-year-old Holtville resident has had the distinction of placing either first or second at campuses within the Holtville Unified School District for the past four spelling bees, earning the privilege of competing at the county level, he said in a phone interview on Monday, March 22.

His debut came as a third-grader, but he did not fare as well as he would’ve liked that year.

“It made me try harder,” Isaiah said.

Not only does Isaiah consider himself a good reader and writer, he also admits to having a competitive spirit, whether it’s for sports, video games, or spelling bees. He said he plans to compete in the spelling competition again next year.

Also joining Isaiah at the county competition from the Holtville Unified School District was Sydney Trevino, Holtville Middle School seventh-grade student.

Sydney could not be included in this story by deadline Wednesday, March 24, but will be included in an updated online version of the story.

The Calexico Unified School District did not have any of its students compete in the 16th annual Imperial County Spelling Bee.

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