Wordly wise Johnson wins once again

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Simon says Two-time winner Simon Johnson claps for his fellow spellers after winning the 2011 CCUSD Spelling Bee. Photo by Geoff Maleman

A sixth-grader from Culver City Middle School became the district’s first repeat winner of the Culver City Unified School District Spelling Bee. Simon Johnson confidently spelled the word “pizzeria” to defeat 23 other spellers and take home his second straight title on Jan. 31 at Robert Frost Auditorium.

“I can’t win three in a row,” said Johnson, who will be in seventh-grade next year and, therefore, ineligible for the 2012 Spelling Bee. “That’s too bad because I was on a roll.”

The students represent each of the district’s five elementary schools and Culver City Middle School. Four from each school competed in the sixth annual CCUSD Spelling Bee.

Johnson, who won last year’s bee by correctly spelling “dehydration,” said he put in plenty of practice. “You get to a point with skill and then, at some point, you have to study,” he said. “I’ve been studying a lot.”

Johnson took home a first-place trophy and a $250 savings bond courtesy of Westfield Culver City, which sponsored the event. He will advance to the Los Angeles County Spelling Bee, which will be held at 4 p.m. on March 23 at Almansor Court, 700 S. Almansor St., in Alhambra. The winner of that competition will advance to the statewide spelling bee in Sonoma in May.

Westfield also presented a trophy and a $150 savings bond to second-place finisher Matthew Chen, and a trophy and a $100 savings bond to third-place finisher Faheem Chunara, both of whom were also from Culver City Middle School. This marked the first time in the history of the CCUSD Spelling Bee that one school swept all three of the top spots. Nicholas Green of Farragut Elementary School finished fourth and was the top elementary school finisher.

In addition, each participant received a certificate of commendation signed by the district’s superintendent offering congratulations for reaching the spelling bee finals.

The CCUSD Spelling Bee will be broadcast on local television on Channel 35.

The spelling bee finalists included the following students: Culver City Middle School: Simon Johnson, Matthew Chen, Faheem Chunara and Harman Khinda; Linwood E. Howe Elementary School: Tyeler Grant Brown, Jesse Castillo, Carolina Mandujano and Aidan Merrell; El Marino Language School: Nolan Lee, Isabel Musselman, Collin Nascimento, and Pavan Tauh; El Rincon Elementary School: Dylan Atianzar, Grace Gay, Jarius Montgomery; Farragut Elementary School: Nicholas Federizo Jimenez, Nicholas Green, Samuel Lee, and Soliana Samson; and La Ballona Elementary School: Mouhamad Alrayes, Sergio Muñoz, Maryam Nawaz and Nida Patel.

Wordly wise Johnson wins once again