Seventh grader Lola Hernández Mendoza won the Madison city-wide Spanish spelling bee this May. Madison has a Hmong spelling contest as well, and dual language immersion programs for both. Lola is a bilingual American citizen of Puerto Rican descent. Her proud family began a successful campaign to raise the $2000 needed for Lola and her parents to attend the national competition. Miss Hernández Mendoza studied Spanish word lists for months, memorizing spelling including accent marks.

In July 2018, she competed nationally in San Antonio, Texas. After five hours of the contest all but two spellers were eliminated. Lola and María del Sol then competed for first place. The final word for the Wisconsin scholar was estatocisto, an organ that helps invertebrate animals maintain balance. She spelled it, “estatosisto,” going with her gut response. Too bad the competition was not in Spain, where the word would have been pronounced, “es-ta-to-this-to,” giving away the c followed by an i! María del Sol of New Mexico spelled the next word correctly and became the champion.

Lola won second place, which earned her $300. You did Wisconsin proud, Miss Hernández Mendoza! She feels grateful to have had the chance to compete at the national level. Lola is busy reading one page of the Spanish dictionary a day to study for next year’s bee. ¡Buena suerte! Good luck!

Para leer este ensayo en español, haz un clic aquí.

One thought on “Winning the Bee

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