Edinburg South Middle School student wins AIM Media Texas spelling bee

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EDINBURG — “Haplography.”

“Can you repeat the word?” asked Caleb Guioco as he stood in high anticipation Saturday at the 36th Annual Regional Spelling Bee.

The announcer gave the word again, and then a definition and then a sentence as Caleb, 12, explored the word thoroughly, even asking the origin of the words.

“Haplography,” Caleb said. “H-A-P-L-O-G-R-A-P-H-Y. Haplography.”

The audience erupted into cheers and applause as everyone realized Caleb had just won the spelling bee at the Edinburg Conference Center.

More applause.

AIM Media Texas presented the event. Second place went to Isabella Gorena of McAllen. Madeleine Newton a student at Preparatory Academy at South Texas ISD, took third place.

Caleb, a seventh grader at South Middle School in Edinburg, beamed with shock and surprise on the stage now amid the clicking of cameras as the star of a competition which tested his talent and intellect and his comprehension of words.

His measured responses to the words, his previous word being “Laceration,” which he explored with the same focus as the championship word, revealed a powerful academic acumen.

His parents, Frank and Cristina Guioco, were joyous as well.

“I am just amazed,” said Frank Guioco. “I think we were more nervous than he was.”

Frank Guioco spoke of the long hours he and his wife had spent studying words with Caleb.

“We studied together as a family,” said Frank Guioco. “He worked really hard. He practiced and practiced.”

Caleb, a man of few words, perhaps by virtue of the moment or by his natural demeanor, had this to say.

“I can’t believe I actually won,” he said, grasping the shiny trophy which was almost as big as himself.

His parents spoke of the tension and the nervousness of the day’s event.

But Caleb said … “I was not really that nervous.”

Perhaps because he has become adept at grace under pressure, having participated in spelling bees for many years and has developed a discipline for concentration through intense hours of preparation.

Caleb is an avid reader and that of course is crucial for success in spelling bees, said his sponsor, Adele Beltran.

“Caleb is an amazing reader and that has helped his spelling skills,” Beltran said. “He is so dedicated.”

Caleb has never visited Washington, D.C. but he will this summer when he competes against spellers from throughout the United States at the national bee this summer. He and his family will now have the opportunity to visit the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Capitol, and the Smithsonian.

They’ll also visit Arlington National Cemetery, where a relative is buried.