DV spells 'success' at tristate bee

| 16 Apr 2015 | 04:17

By Anya Tikka
— Delaware Valley Middle School swept the competition in a recent spelling bee, taking the top three places in a tristate competition.

Twenty-five competitors from five schools participated, including teams from Eldred, N.Y., Montague, N.J., and Port Jervis, N.Y.

The first-place winner, DV sixth-grader Darius Bermudez, 13, took time way from his dictionary to talk to the Courier about his success.

“It feels good to be able to represent Delaware Valley in National Spelling Bee,” Darius said quietly. “I’m a little shy to talk about it.”

Darius will go to Washington, D.C., on May 24 with his family: mom, Cathy; dad, Samuel; brother, Quinton, 7; and sister, Nadya, 5. They’ll spend the whole week on the trip. Darius said his expenses are covered, though he wasn’t sure if everything was.

“I was always good at spelling,” Darius said. “I think I have a good memory, and I also read a lot of books.”

He loves to read. It takes him two to three days to finish a 300-page book. He usually reads juvenile fiction.

“Everybody is a big reader in my family,” Darius said. “They read — but I read the most in the family.”

Darius learned to read when he was only three or four years old.

Eight-grader Skylar U'Glay came in second in the contest, and sixth-grader Josh Caraballo took third. The other two competitors from DV were sixth- grader Jullian Connaughton and eighth-grader Theo Bookey.

So what makes Delaware Valley Middle School such a hotbed of spelling supremacy?

Principal Peter Ioppolo said it was the commitment of the students themselves, with help from their teachers.

“As principal, I credit the students who work independently on their own excellence,” he said. "And the teaching staff is excellent."

Librarian Emily Shedlauskas and reading specialist Anna Masker were the Delaware Valley Middle School Spelling Bee coordinators.

As for Darius, he's got plans of his own, where spelling will come in handy.

“I want to be an author," he said. "I’m already starting to write my first book."

But, like any great author, he won't give away what the book's about.