St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School Wins National Spanish Spelling Bee

April 5, 2024

St. Mary Magdalen studentsSt. Mary Magdalen Catholic School’s (SMMS) fourth graders recently made their community proud as they took first place in the National Spanish Spelling Bee. The virtual competition, organized by the University of Notre Dame, welcomed 21 Catholic schools from across the nation to demonstrate their level of Spanish vocabulary comprehension.

The school has participated in the competition for two years demonstrating impressive skills at both competitions. The school took home second place in their first year after falling behind by just one point in overtime. This year, they won first place and became national champions. Representatives from the University of Notre Dame came to SMMS to present the winning students with their trophy.

“A lot of preparation came from the school’s Spanish faculty members,” shared William Daily, principal at SMMS. “They taught the students different mechanisms so that they could better understand syllables, accents and capitalization because all of those factors counted in the competition.”

Daily explained that the students worked for about two months to prepare for the competition. Many students even put in after-school hours to familiarize themselves with Spanish words that they might encounter at the spelling bee. This approach helped students develop their level of comprehension and strategies that ultimately helped them during the competition.

St. Mary Magdalen studentsSMMS demonstrates how much it values bilingualism every day. The school was established as the first dual language Catholic school in San Antonio 11 years ago, and now educates students of various cultural backgrounds in English and Spanish. The school’s mission statement reads that “SMMS cultivates a growth mindset, biliteracy and strong character inspired by the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching.”

“Faith is the number one component here at SMMS,” stated Daily. “It helps them get through so much that life will throw at them. Bilingualism enables them to have a richer and more accessible experience with their faith since the Spanish language is very present in the Catholic faith. This gives them more options to engage with it.”

The school strives to integrate Spanish into all aspects of its curriculum. Mass, prayers, announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish are a few daily practices that help students to develop their bilingual skills.

Daily and the rest of the SMMS community are extremely proud of the students and how they have represented the school. In light of the school’s recent achievement, Daily expressed,  “It is about the journey, not the trophy. It’s great to have cheers instead of tears, but the process of learning together and the experience makes it worth it.”

Congratulations to the winning students!