Delray hosts first summer spelling bee

Delray hosts first summer spelling bee

Motivation is a strong word in Delray Beach. The city partnered with tutoring and mentoring programs to motivate students to read this summer.

The project culminated Thursday with the city's first summer spelling bee.

Jackson Destine, a rising senior at Atlantic High School, got motivation to participate in the bee thanks to an encouraging text from his teacher.

Once he was on stage, he wanted to prove stereotypes wrong.

"They be like you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book. I feel like that's wrong and that's not right," he exclaimed.

Destine doesn't hide the fact he likes to read, often searching the library for books about sports and space.

This summer, more than 100 students like Destine discovered new words by opening a book. Agencies like the Delray Beach Public Library, the Milagro Center, KOPMN, Emanuel Jackson, Sr. Project and the city partnered to find a fun way for children to keep learning over the summer.

"I never forgot how to spell that word," Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein said about leprechaun.

He lost his eighth grade spelling bee by misspelling the word. His motivation for this spelling bee comes from statistics that show students can fall two grade levels behind their peers if they don't read during their elementary school summers.

"You're not going to be able to do math, science, English, read music, or write music. It all starts with vocabulary," Glickstein pointed out.

Delray Beach recently won the All America Award for the work it's done to improve grade-level reading in the city's elementary schools.

On stage at the bee, Destine and Mike Juillet ran out of words to spell and became co-champions.

"For me today was about the spirit of competition," said Juillet afterwards.

The two winners have spent the summer at Delray Students First. It's a tutoring program to help students achieve once they graduate high school.

"They're trying to move on to that next step after high school which is college and to be able to graduate and come back and give back to the community and keep that cycle of education going," explained Santiago Arias, the summer program director.

The school district suggests you read to and/or with your children every day.

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