Outstanding student academics, athletes, FFA participants and musicians took a victory lap as the Holtville Unified School District recognized successful competitors during its April 15 board meeting.
The packed meeting room was upbeat as teachers, administrators, parents and friends cheered those who distinguished themselves through high achievement.
Lupita Perez, Finley Elementary School principal, introduced two spelling bee competitors, Samuel Estrada and Isaiah Banuelos, both in fifth grade. Isaiah finished ninth in the 14th annual Imperial County Spelling Bee at Southwest High School's Jimmie Cannon Theater in El Centro on March 14.
"We have some avid readers as (County school Superintendent Todd) Finnell and I were discussing," said Perez. "We're very proud of them being able to place at county level."
On hand, Finnell praised students for their dedication in pursuit of higher standards and noted their efforts are closing the achievement gap among the state's other 57 counties.
"The spelling bee is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their grit, determination and focus, which are important qualities as they prepare for their future," said Finnell. "It's also an opportunity to emphasize the importance of reading, and encourage each student to discover a joy and passion for reading that will last a lifetime."
Rosa Desilaga, an eighth grader, and Delilah Amezcuita, a fifth grader, of Pine School, also were spelling bee competitors. Principal Patricia Harrison said she is delighted her students were able to excel.
"We're very proud of their accomplishments and they worked very hard to be top winners of our school," she said. "We also congratulate Alize Quintana (fifth grader) who achieved a perfect score in English Language Arts."
Niza Beltran and Jessica Jimenez, sixth graders at Holtville Middle School, were two more spellers cited for their achievements. Principal Fawn Nielsen noted she was very proud of their commitment.
"It's not easy to get up and spell in front to hundreds of others," she said. "I commend their effort. I hope they continue to study hard and try again next year."
Winning the spelling bee for the third time was Nathan Ostermann, an eighth grader from Wilson Junior High School in El Centro. He will represent Imperial County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D. C.
Also receiving recognition certificates were members of Holtville High School's Band of Pride who were invited to perform at Disneyland on April 16. Yvonne Moreno congratulated several musicians in attendance. They included Leslie Martinez, flag captain, Andy Torrez, drum major, Rachel Moreno, saxophone player, Belen Flores, field captain and third trumpet, and Emily Stacy, section leader.
In addition, members of the FFA were honored for their efforts in competitions at the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta. Cameron King earned a second place in mechanics sweepstakes, Melany Lopez was third in public speaking and David Lopez is now a state finalist in extemporaneous speaking.