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Top spellers competing in SJ County bee
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The top finishers of the recent Manteca Unified Spelling Bee are gearing up for the next round of words.

The next stop for middle school students – in no particular order – Leonor Borges (Nile Garden), Mia Holbrook (Woodward) and Samantha Loughborough (August Knodt) will be the San Joaquin County Office of Education competition.

The 13th annual event consisting of seventh- through ninth-grade students from Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, Ripon, Linden and the rest of the county begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in the Educational Services Center, Burwood 1 and 4, 2707 Transworld Dr., Stockton.

Haleigh Petersen (Veritas), Onyebuchi Ogbuli (Joshua Cowell), and Si Jie “Jessica” Tang (Woodward) are competing in the fourth- through sixth-grade division. They finished first-, second- and third- place, respectively, in the district-wide event held Nov. 4 in Manteca High’s speech arts building.

Karen Olsen of Lathrop School and Dianne Bruckner of the district office (elementary education) respectively served as spell master and emcee at the local Spelling Bee.

The panel of judges consisted of Evelyn Moore (MUSD board member), Cheryl Meeker (MUSD senior director of elementary education), Rebecca Robinson (vice principal, Woodward), Steve Moretto (MUSD coordinator of compensatory education / testing and evaluation), and Tammy Dunbar, Tom James and Betty James.

Petersen, Ogbuli, and Tang will begin SJCOE competition on Monday, Dec. 7, in the mandatory elimination round. From there, the top 15 contestants will be invited back to the Dec. 9 finals.

The top two finishers in the two divisions will advance to the California State Spelling Championships in the spring, with SJCOE paying the $850 entry fees.

To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail