By Nikki Nguyen     2/15/2017

In celebration of Catholic Schools Week, JSerra Catholic High School held its inaugural Spelling Bee for 5th and 6th grade students currently enrolled at one of seven local partner schools. The event not only celebrates the benefits of a Catholic education, but also encourages students to foster a love of reading.

Prior to the JSerra Spelling Bee, each partner school first held their own spelling bees to send the top four students from each grade to compete at JSerra. The participating schools are Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, St. Edward the Confessor Parish School in Dana Point, St. Catherine of Siena in Rialto, Our Lady of Fatima in San Clemente, St. Junipero Serra Catholic School and St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita, and Our Lady Queen of Angels School in Newport Beach.

The competitors and their classmates first joined the high school students at their weekly Mass, and then enjoyed a special lunch provided by JSerra before the exciting competition began. Cheered on by over 500 excited classmates who held hand-drawn signs of support (and even performed the wave), the 52 participants battled through nearly a dozen round of increasingly difficult spelling words.

Ultimately, 6th grader Jordan Held of Our Lady Queen of Angels won first place. She will receive $5,000 per year towards JSerra tuition (a $20,000 value).

When asked how she felt upon winning, Held said, “I was really relieved — it was more the experience than anything.”

This was Held’s first spelling bee, and she had prepared by reading and practicing spelling words.

The second place winner was 5th grader Laura Allain of St. Edward the Confessor Parish School, who won $2,500 per year towards JSerra tuition ($10,000 value), The third place winner was 6th grader Luca Bredehoft of Our Lady Queen of Angels, who won $1,000 per year towards JSerra tuition ($4,000 value).

“Since it’s Catholic Schools Week, we’re showcasing and celebrating the top students from local Catholic schools,” said Brock Perkes, director of admissions. “We also want to emphasize the importance of spelling and motivate students to read more on their own.”