Crowd left spellbound by 5th grade Bee

Kai Batchelor wins with 'manager'

Make text smaller Make text larger


  • From left, Josh Lipton (2nd place), Samantha Shack (3rd place) and Kai Batchelor (champion) Photos by Laurie Gordon

  • Students prepare for The Spelling Bee

  • The panel of judges carefully went over each of the answers. JWCS' Kelly Lucadamo, foreground, served as the pronouncer.

  • Front row, from left: Josh Lipton (2nd place), Samantha Shack (3rd place) and Kai Batchelor (champion). Back row, from left: judges Brad Davis, Jacquelyn Burt and Peggy Lami.

By Laurie Gordon

— The Junior Woman's Club of Sparta hosted the 23rd Annual Fifth Grade Spelling Bee on Saturday at Mohawk Avenue School in Sparta. The champion was Kai Batchelor who took the win by correctly spelling the word “manager.” Second place was Joshua Lipton. He was eliminated by the word “boomerang,” and third was Samantha Shack who was eliminated by the word “crestfallen.” All of the contestants gave it their all and had fun participating in front of a packed auditorium at the Mohawk Avenue School.

Jayme McGauley who served as moderator, and started the Bee by explaining the rules and then holding a practice round to teach the children how to say the word, spell the word (including the notation of a capital letter) and then say it again. For the practice round they were to use their names. This was the second year that McGauley chaired the event, and she prepared for it with the help of a committee of volunteers.

In December, an announcement and instructions about the Bee are sent to the Sparta schools, and it is open to all fifth grade students in Sparta. School principals share the information with their fifth grade teachers, and each class is invited to select two students to participate.

“The students may be selected by any method, however, we encourage the use of mini Spelling Bees,” said Kelly Lucadamo, the Junior Women's Club of Sparta's Secretary. She also served as the Bee's “pronouncer.”

“This will be the 23rd year that the Junior Woman's Club of Sparta has been hosting this event,” Lucadamo said. “We are part of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs (NJSFWC). Since 1989 local clubs in the NJSFWC have sponsored spelling bees for 4th and 5th graders. Hosting this event has become a time-honored tradition for our club and community.”

The aim of the bee is to keep spelling a valued component of education, one that can also be fun, rewarding and encouraging to students.

“An event like this certainly encourages a love of language,” said Lucadamo, “But it also encourages life skill development: discipline, self-confidence, communication and how to thrive under competitive pressure. Participants compete just as they do on the soccer or baseball fields, they just happen to be exercising different muscles. Participating in the event is an academic accomplishment all our contestants can be proud of.”

Judges were Brad Davis, the Assistant Principal at Sparta Middle School, Jacquelyn Burt, who teaches Social Studies at Pope John XXIII High School and Peggy Lami, Retired Children's Coordinator at Sparta Public Library.

The Spelling Bee was made possible by these generous sponsors: Anthony Franco's Pizza, Casa Mia, Krogh's, Lake House Cafe, Lavanta Coffee & Bagel, Oil & Vinegar, RJ Mars, Sparta Books, Sparta Lanes, Supercuts, the Sussex County YMCA and Villa Capri.

Students who participated in the Spelling Bee in addition to the winners were: Olivia Acosta, William Antunes, Jonathan Baldanza, Frank DeNicola, Devon Dobbs, Ella Duphiney, Giselle Faria, Christian Goncalves, Tyler Harms, Ben Janiszewski, Mikayla Lapp, Ethan Louissant, Alexandra MacMullin, Julianna Papaleo, Cooper Randall, Gianna Ramieri, Teddy Schreiber, Sabrina Smith, Gina Stankiewicz, Lea Tsamadis, Rebecca Walker, Emma Westervelt, Andrew Wilson, Kilah Woods and Madelina Worsley.

Batchelor, Lipton and Shack are invited to participate in the Highlands District Spelling Bee on Saturday, February 3 at the Rockaway Assembly of God in Rockaway, New Jersey. District winners will then be invited to the State Championships at the New Jersey Federation of Women's Clubs State Spelling Bee in New Brunswick on March 3.

Make text smaller Make text larger


Pool Rules


Superfund Site Remediation
By Mandy Coriston
Byram - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on Monday, March 18, updated residents...

Read more »

Children celebrate St. Patrick's Day
Whether attending the Sussex County St. Patrick's Day Parade, playing a bagpipe, doing an Irish gig, or making special arts and crafts...
Read more »

Sussex County to form Tourism Task Force
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) brought together business owners, the Sussex Chamber, elected officials, and tourism leaders at...
Read more »

Jefferson Twp Museum reopens April 7
JEFFERSON - The Jefferson Township Museum, also known as the George Chamberlain House, will reopen with an Open House on Sunday, April 7, 2019, from 1 to 4 pm. Admission is free.
Read more »


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers


Local News
Ninja in Newton
  • Mar 21, 2019


Find more about Weather in Sparta, NJ