Chris Jean: King of Words


Matthew Leto, Sports Editor

In a repeat of last year’s National English Honor Society Spelling Bee Friday, seniors Christopher Jean and Matt Bjork dominated the competition. Senior Ashley Joseph finished third. The Spelling Bee capped a jammed-packed Literacy Week presented by NEHS.

Contestants had one week to study a packet of words provided by NEHS before the competition in the PAC. Like modern-day gladiators, Jean and Bjork took turns battling for first place. They went through spelling words such as wrath and onomatopoeia.

Last year, in exciting underdog fashion, Jean defeated Bjork, the front-runner of the competition. This year several participants were determined to etch their name as the second ever Santaluces Spelling Bee champion. The participant had 90 seconds to spell the word given by the three judges, who are officers in NEHS. Contestants included defending champion Christopher Jean, runner-up Matt Bjork, seniors: Arutro Parra, Rich Zephirin, Matthew Leto, Kaythleen Escribano, Ashley Joseph, Olajuwon Theodore and Jordan Cruz.

Arturo Parra had one thing on his mind in this year’s Spelling Bee.

“I came back for revenge this year,” Parra said. “I really wanted to finish better than third this year.”

Runner-up of last year’s Spelling Bee, Bjork spent countless hours in preparing for the rematch.

“I made sure to look at each word at least once this year,” Bjork said. “This year there were less words so it was easier to memorize.”

In the end, Bjork missed ostentatious and Jean spelled it correctly then spelled posthumous.

“It was a hard fought battle, I want to thank Mrs.Clifton for having these Spelling Bees and everyone who competed,” said Jean. “I also want to thank my boys Kervin, Ashley, Evensky for coming to support what I love doing since 2009.”

Rich Zephirin commented on these two powerhouses.

“Bjork was a tank,” Zephirin said. “But, King (Jean) was like a machine and in the end King repeated as champion.”

The state-sponsored Literacy Week repeated its theme of “Literacy Changes Our World” and kicked off Monday with M&M day. Students had to come up with the most words starting with the letter M under a minute.

Senior Christian Coppola was excited to participate.

“It was lit to name “M” words,” Coppola said. “It was like taking candy from a baby.”

Tuesday was tongue twister Tuesday, and students had to deliver tough tongue twisters within a tight timeframe.

Vice president senior Jacob Hornfeldt was happy with the turnout for the tongue twisters.

“We got quite a bit of people to stop by and participate,” Hornfeldt said. “It was great to see everybody come together and play.”

Wednesday was word scramble Wednesday, and students had to unscramble famous books, poets and characters.

Senior Caitlyn Esposito, and NEHS member, volunteered to help NEHS during the lunchtime activities.

“It was a really fun time,” Esposito said. “Watching all the students try their hardest to unscramble the words was amazing.”

By the end of the week, Chiefs were ready to compete during Thursday’s Alphabet Chairs day. In a musical chair spin off, students had to avoid the letter on the chairs announced simultaneously with the stopping of the music.

President of NEHS, senior Anna Stewart chimed in on an outstanding Literacy Week.

“We did a great job promoting literacy throughout the school,” Stewart said. “Alphabet chairs day was by far my favorite.”

Literacy lovers capped off Literacy Week with the Spelling Bee, which NEHS members say may return in the Spring.