Last year, Mario Matute came up with a new way to spell success in the city's housing projects.
Matute, senior case manager at San Fernando Gardens in Pacoima, brought together youngsters from across Los Angeles to compete against each other for special prizes. It became a battle of wills--and words. It was a spelling bee, and it was a big hit.
On Saturday, Matute will hold the second annual spelling bee at the Panorama Mall in Panorama City, which will include 60 youngsters from 10 housing developments in three age-graded categories.
The purpose is both social and academic.
"We want to bring the kids together from all parts of the city," Matute said. "And we know a lot of the kids need assistance in spelling. The child develops a lot of interest by being in this type of competition."
In fact, he said, the competition was so intense during the preliminaries at San Fernando Gardens last week that it took much longer than expected to come up with two finalists for Saturday's event. Each housing development held a first-round elimination to narrow the field.
"We went through the whole list of 160 words without eliminating anyone," Matute said. "We had to go to another list. More importantly, they were excited."
Matute said Myra Thompson, branch manager for World Book Educational Products, will provide the word list for the three categories. Participants will include youngsters from housing developments in Los Angeles, San Pedro, Culver City and Pacoima.
The spelling bee will run from 10 a.m to 1 p.m.
Prizes will include savings bonds and free passes to Magic Mountain, Disneyland and Universal Studios.