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Veritas 6th grader nails spelling of croquet
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From left, Si Jie “Jessica” Tang, Onyebuchi Ogbuli, and Haliegh Petersen were among the winners of Wednesday night’s Manteca Unified School District Spelling Bee. The three will compete in next month’s San Joaquin County event. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Haliegh Petersen enjoys reading.

That’s according to Kade Petersen, who was one proud dad Wednesday at the annual Manteca Unified School District Spelling Bee.

His daughter, Haliegh, a sixth-grade student at Veritas School, claimed first place in the event held at Manteca High’s Mulvihill Theatre by correctly spelling “croquet.”

She edged out second-place finisher Onyebuchi Ogbuli and Si Jie “Jessica” Tang in the fourth- through sixth- grade division.

“We were given a list beforehand,” said Tang, who is a sixth-grade student from Walter E. Woodward School. “I studied only when I had the time.”

Petersen scanned the same list some 15 minutes before the competition. It may have mattered perhaps just a little.

“Haleigh’s a big reader,” Kade Petersen said. “I think that’s one of the reasons she remembers (the spelling of) words.”

Ogbuli is a Joshua Cowell School sixth-grade student. He was stumped on the word, “parfait.”

But he, along with Tang, will have another chance next month during the 13th annual San Joaquin County Spelling Bee.

Petersen, Ogbuli and Tang qualified for the first round of the competition, meeting other participants from other parts of the county from 4 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the SJCOE’s Education Service Center, 2707 Transworld Drive, Stockton.

Samantha Loughborough, Leonor Borges, and Mia Holbrook will represent MUSD in the seventh- through ninth- grade division.

The championship round is scheduled for Dec. 9.

The winners and runners-up will represent San Joaquin County at the State Spelling Bee Championship in May.