How Do You Spell “Success” in Spanish? (É-x-i-t-o)

May. 20, 2019
Two students from Munroe Elementary proudly pose after the Colorado State Spanish Spelling Bee

Two students at Munroe Elementary proudly represented their school and DPS at the Colorado State Spanish Spelling Bee on April 13 this year. Hosted by the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), the event had participants from across Colorado. Erick Toribio-Rodarte, who is in fifth grade, qualified to go on to the national competition on July 13. Oscar Reyes-Valenzuela, a fourth grader, also participated at the state level.

The students were both excited and nervous about attending the competition. Toribio-Rodarte shared, “My experience going to the State Spanish Spelling Bee was cool because I was able to learn new words. I was nervous because I did not know some words, so I had to guess too. It was also cool because I was able to learn from my mistakes and I learned how to spell and say words that I did not know.”

“When I went to the State Spanish Spelling Bee in Boulder I was nervous and scared because it was my first time going to Boulder and a Spelling Bee (not counting the one at school). I was scared because there were a lot of people there. When I passed the first word, I was happy and a little nervous. When we went to the second word, I was nervous. It was my turn to spell a word and I spelled it wrong. I was embarrassed. Then Ms. Pluta said I was great and I felt happy. I had fun because I never went to a middle school before in Boulder,” said Reyes-Valenzuela.

Patricia Pluta, a gifted and talented teacher, helped organize Munroe’s school spelling bee, which led to the two boys participating in the state competition. “We held a schoolwide spelling bee in English and Spanish,” said Pluta. “As a first-time organizer, I was surprised at how supportive the students were.”

“Being able to participate in a Spanish-language spelling bee was wonderful for Erick and Oscar,” added Pluta. “We value biliteracy at Munroe and these students were able to do something they could be proud of that connected to their heritage.”

Pluta shared that the University of Colorado – Denver paid the entry fee for both students for the state competition, and that the English Language Acquisition department at DPS would pay the entry fee for Erick Toribio-Rodarte to go to the national competition.

“It’s these kinds of opportunities that are so important for our students, especially when they might not otherwise have access to them. This competition might spark a passion for literature or it might be a positive experience that encourages them to enter more competitions,” Pluta said. “Either way, we’ve helped our students learn that trying something can lead to great things.”

Superintendent Susana Cordova’s plan for leading DPS toward a streamlined focus on Equity, Instructional Excellence and Collaborative Teamwork includes the ensuring culturally responsive education and supporting Black and Brown Excellence. Learn more at