By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Calisthenics clinched a spelling bee.

Madeline DePascale, a seventh-grader at Maternity B.V.M. School in Philadelphia, spelled the word “calisthenics” correctly to capture a first-place win and a scholarship totaling $4,000 to Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia.

DePascale was pleasantly surprised she won the 32-round spelling bee, hosted by Archbishop Ryan Saturday, March 14, in the high school’s auditorium. “I’m really happy,” said the daughter of Anthony and Lisa DePascale of Maternity B.V.M. Parish.

She was one of 62 seventh-graders from 18 area grade schools to compete in Ryan’s fifth annual spelling bee.

Her $1,000 scholarship is renewable each successive year of high school.

DePascale said one word – “kindergarten” – temporarily stumped her during the competition. She wasn’t sure if the third-to-the-last letter was a “t” or a “d.” But then “something told me just to go with ‘t,'” she said. Although fairly confident, “I was a little scared because I didn’t want to get it wrong.”

The abc’s of spelling are “not that hard if you study,” DePascale said. “If you just practice, it gets easier.”

The second- and third-place winners of the spelling bee also received scholarships to Archbishop Ryan.

Barry Benner of St. Anselm School in Philadelphia took second place, securing a $2,000 scholarship – $500 for four years.

“I was happy” with the outcome, said the son of Barry and Denise Benner of St. Anselm Parish.

In the Ryan spelling bee, if a word was misspelled, the correct spelling was announced and the next competitor received a new word.

Although Benner did not spell “atrocious” correctly – “I thought it had two ‘t’s’ in it” – he was pleased with his performance on other words, including “ventriloquist,” “hemorrhage” and “itinerary,” he said.

Dylan Panepresso of St. Martha School came in third place, receiving a $1,000 scholarship – $250 for four years.

“Plaque” and “undoubtedly” were among the trickier words Panepresso mastered, but it was the word “annihilate” that eliminated him from the competition. He spelled the word with one “n.”

Still, the son of Dan and Patricia Panepresso of St. Martha Parish was pleased with the third-place finish, particularly because of the scholarship money. “I never thought I would make it that far. I felt good for myself and my parents.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or