Lincoln Middle student wins regional Spelling Bee

Penelope Moore


That’s how Lincoln Middle School’s Penelope Moore, the winner of the 2019 El Paso Regional Spelling Bee, spells success.  

“I wasn’t always good at spelling. I was a bad speller when I was younger,” Penelope said on March 2, still clutching to her first-place trophy. “But I just worked hard and studied. After a while, it became fun.”

The fun paid off in a big way.

After a preliminary and a heated 10-round final stage at the Bowie High School Fine Arts Auditorium on March 1, Penelope correctly spelled the word “geniture” to earn the title of top speller in west Texas and southern New Mexico.

“I didn’t know the word, but I used clues to take a guess,” she said. “I knew it was a Latin word, so I went for it.  I was right.”  

As the winner in this weekend’s spelling bee, Penelope will represent the region at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 26-31 in Fort Washington, Md.

Penelope beat nearly 140 spellers that hailed from as far away as Deming, N.M., and Van Horn, Texas. Second place went to Kristina Martos of Lynn Middle School of the Las Cruces Public Schools system, and Ian Austin of Edgemere Elementary in the Ysleta Independent School District placed third.

Penelope said she is excited to visit the Washington, D.C., area during the national spelling bee.

“There are tons of museums and history there,” she said.

It won’t all be fun and games, however. Her spelling coach, Lincoln teacher Lee Peacock, said she knows Penelope will put in the hard work to create a buzz at nationals.

“I’ve never met a young person as determined as Penny,” she said. “I know she will represent her school, EPISD, the city of El Paso and all of our region with pride.”

Penelope has history on her side at nationals.  In the more than seven decades that El Paso-area students have participated in the national bee, four spellers have won the title.

“I think she has what it takes to win it all. I am confident she can pull it off,” Peacock said.

This was the 75th edition of the El Paso Regional Spelling Bee, and the first organized by the EPISD Education Foundation.  

The Foundation took over sponsorship of the events from the El Paso Times, which along with the defunct El Paso Herald-Post had organized the bee for decades.

The judges for the spelling bee were 2009 winner Katie Stone, a New Mexico State University graduate student and an EPISD alumna; El Paso Times Librarian Trish Long; and acting EPISD Board of Trustees President Bob Geske, who also serves on the board of the EPISD Education Foundation.

The pronouncer for the spelling bee was Dr. Richard Pineda, a communications professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.