S-O-N-A-T-A Means Success for Spelling Bee Champ

LAS CRUCES—The word “sonata” proved to be the clincher for 13-year-old Fateh Aswad, who won the 2018 Las Cruces Public Schools spelling bee.  The 8th-grade student from Sierra Middle School was among 27 spellers from 20 elementary and 7 middle schools who competed in the recent competition at the Onate High Performing Arts Center.


Fateh Aswad (center), an 8th grader from Sierra Middle School, is the 2018 champion in the LCPS spelling bee. Also pictured are (left) 1st runner-up Kristina Martos of Lynn Middle School, and 2nd runner-up Faris Aswad of Desert Hills Elementary.

The first runner-up was Kristina Martos, 13, a 7th grader from Lynn Middle School.  The third-place award went to 5th-grader Faris Aswad, 10, of Desert Hills Elementary, Fateh Aswad’s younger brother.

“I feel like I am on top of the world since I won the spelling bee!” Fateh Aswad said. “I want to compete in future bees, and the next one is the Regional Spelling Bee in El Paso.”

Aswad has prevailed in previous bees including a first-place win at a Deming Public Schools spelling bee when he was a 5th-grader, and a third-place finish as a 4th-grader.

“I’ve been in spelling bees since kindergarten,” he added.  Aswad said he prepared for the LCPS competition by studying nightly at home with help from his siblings. His favorite subject in school is science.

Fateh and all individual school winners are eligible to participate in the regional bee on March 2, said Josie Miller and Leonard Gonzales, the bee coordinators who are content specialists with the LCPS Teaching

“It was evident that the students used word origins, meanings, and spelling relationships on their quest to be the district’s top speller,” Gonzales said.  “We’re excited for the participants and know they’ll represent our district well.”

The elementary school site winners are: Leila Strevel, Alameda; Clarissa Chacon, B.T. Washington; Juan Guerra, Columbia; Mia Lopez, Conlee; Faris Aswad, Desert Hills; Maya Hernandez, Doña Ana; Addy Hamling, East Picacho; Vanessa Gutierrez-Marquez, Fairacres; Jacqueline Prieto-Carreras, Hermosa Heights; Victoria Sohn, Highland; Arielle Monsivaiz, Hillrise; James Castrillon, Jornada; Mia Garcia, Loma Heights; Marissa Lopez, MacArthur; Harmon Hakes, Mesilla; Gunner Guardiola, Mesilla Park; Savannah Al-Nouman, Sonoma; Kevin Perez, Sunrise; Anelise Elmquist, Tombaugh; and Kaitlyn Hammitt, University Hills.

The middle school site winners are: Jacob Estep, Camino Real; Kristina Martos, Lynn; Manuel Escandon, Mesa; Holly Norsworthy, Picacho; Fateh Aswad, Sierra; McKayla Hartung, Vista; and Lauralye Fox, Zia.

“There was incredible support and dedication from the school-site coordinators and the spellers’ family members,” Miller said.  “Their efforts and commitment guided their students’ success.”

Others who supported the annual event were Melissa Delaurentis, Stephanie Hofacket, Carina Berard, Kathleen Guitar, Joe Price, Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, Daniel Peterson, and Esther Peterson.


—For information, contact Jo Galvan, chief communications officer, 575.527.5811,