Winner of 2019 St. Johns County Spelling Bee announced


Manischa Wijayawardhana, a fifth-grade student at Timberlin Creek Elementary School, won the 2019 St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) Spelling Bee held Jan. 23 at First Coast Technical College CHARACTER COUNTS! Conference Center. She won by spelling the word “fantoccini” correctly. Manischa is the daughter of Charles and Aloka Wijayawardhana.

It took 43 rounds for the winner to be determined. The participants were congratulated by Superintendent Tim Forson, School Board Chair Kelly Barrera, and School Board Members Bill Mignon and Beverly Slough.

Thirty-five elementary and middle school students from 30 public and five private schools competed for the honor of representing St. Johns County in the First Coast Regional Spelling Bee scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Jacksonville University. If for any reason the winner is not able to attend, runner-up Zara Khan of Alice B. Landrum Middle School will represent the county.

The winner of the regional spelling bee will advance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled in May in Washington, D.C.

WFOY 102.1 broadcast the spelling bee live and streamed it on their website. The SJCSD Instruction Television Services Department also taped the event.

Rebecca England, SJCSD program specialist for Elementary Language Arts, served as the spelling bee coordinator and the pronouncer was Linda Villadoniga, retired SJCSD teacher. Judges for the event were Jay DiMartino, SJCSD program specialist; Cheryl Freeman, director of the SJCSD Volunteer Services Department and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program; and Sandy Waldeis, community representative. 

The Spelling Bee will be broadcast Jan. 29 through Feb. 3 each day at 6 p.m. on SEA TV channels 99 or 262. 


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