By Rachel Shirey
RIVERDALE — The Riverdale Spelling Bee challenged elementary and middle school-aged children to find fun with words.
Spelling bee judge and Kemp Primary Counselor Annette McCraw said the focus of the spelling bee was to engage as many new faces to the world of spelling with the hope that it would encourage reading success.
“We want (the students) to fall in love with words and the whole activity of competition,” McCraw said.
Children spent days studying their list of words in order to compete with their peers. They cheered when they spelled words correctly, and there were tears when words were misspelled, said McCraw.
The event was sponsored by Councilwoman Cynthia Stamps-Jones with the support of Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Dixon.
Stephon Gude of Kemp Primary School, who won his age division, said he had a lot of fun at the spelling bee and was proud of himself.
“I was jumping on the stage with the trophy,” Gude said.
The Kindergarten first place winner was Asha White of Blackstone Academy. Brian Hood of Solid Rock Academy took second place, and Ashley Cook of Kemp Primary School took third place.
The 1st grade winner was Brian Okafor of Kemp Primary School. Jade Rosser of Solid Rock Academy took second place and Charles Johnson of Church Street Elementary took third place.
Gude took home the first place prize for the 2nd grade division. Mario Dentay of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary took second place, and Lydie Utomen of Lake Ridge Elementary took third place.
The 4th and 5th grade winner was Fatima Kane of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. Jai Williams of Harper Elementary took second place, and Maria Muhammad of Blackstone Academy took third place.
The 6th, 7th and 8th grade winner was Kalin Smith of North Clayton Middle School. Danielle Jolly of Riverdale middle school took second place, and Oromra Usmah of North Clayton Middle School took third place.
Winners received a number of prizes including a trophy, bags, bookmarks, gift cards and books. However, no child went home empty handed. Every child was given a spelling bee T-shirt, and the upper two age divisions received dictionaries courtesy of the Clayton County Rotary Club.
“To get children involved in spelling is a wonderful thing to do because, first of all, it builds their own self esteem,” said Dr. Brenda Cloud, principle of Kemp Primary School. “It makes them realize that if they can put those sounds together, they can read anything.”