Island’s Top Spellers Compete in Local Bee

Eric J. Kos From left to right: second place speller, and Elementary School Champion, Thomas McMuldren; fourth place, Ana Bernardi; third place, Chandler Lau; fifth place, Elizabeth Tsyvinsky and Champion Speller, Hazel Purins.


Now in its third year, the Alameda Spelling Bee was held last Saturday at Otis Elementary School. Some 45 Alameda students from fourth to eighth grade took part in a written test followed by an oral competition that displayed their skills in the essential building block of writing: spelling.
This year’s champion was seventh-grader at Lincoln Middle School, Hazel Purins. Purins also took first place two years ago at the inaugural bee. She spelled facetious and camouflage correctly for the title.
Second place, and the elementary-school champion title went to sixth-grader at Academy of Alameda, Thomas McMuldren. Third place went to Lincoln Middle School sixth-grader Chandler Lau. 
Rounding out the top 10 spellers in Alameda were: Ana Bernardi, Elizabeth Tsyvinsky, Adriana Argyriov, Katie Angstadt-Leto, Richie Do, Ryan Lacuzong and Oscar Kring. 
These 10 students will represent Alameda at the Alameda County Spelling Bee set for Tuesday, March 14, in Castro Valley. The Alameda Elks Lodge sponsored their entry fees as part of their prizes. In case of a cancellation Chloe Phan, who finished in 11th place, was named first alternate. 
“Spelling bees are exciting and nerve-wracking. It takes guts to get up there, so I’m proud of all the students who came out to participate.” said Kapelke. “We will be sending a group of strong spellers to the county bee in March, including Hazel Purins, who has now come in first, second and first in our three citywide spelling bees.”
The top five spellers received trophies courtesy of Alameda Advertising and Recognition. The top spellers also received other prizes courtesy of local businesses: Rocket Re-Use, Tucker’s Ice Cream, Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, Subpar Mini Golf and Starbucks. The Alameda Sun also supports the bee by donating advertising.
I personally have had the pleasure of helping organize this event with local parents Chuck Kapelke and Michael Jonas who do a tremendous amount to make this event happen. Kapelke was the originator of this city-wide bee to determine who best should represent Alameda at the county-wide bee and possibly at the state (which will be held in Stockton on Tuesday, April 18) and national level bees. 
Kapelke administers registration, secures the venue and organizes a group of additional volunteers. Jonas serves as “spell master” and assembles the word lists and administers the written test. (I filled in as oral spell master this year due to Jonas feeling under the weather.) Outgoing Alameda Poet Laureate Julia Park Tracey and I serve as the judges, with me having the hefty role of letting kids know “I’m sorry. That’s not correct.” 
The four of us agree this event is an essential part of a successful community and are thrilled it’s been met with such interest from kids and parents who climb out of bed early on a Saturday to compete.