Island City Students Compete in Bee

Eric J. Kos    Alameda’s top five spellers celebrate their achievements at last Saturday’s spelling bee. Left to right: Benji Kapelke, fourth place; Kira Hannigan, fifth place; Ella Banchieri, first place; Elena Morishige, second place and Chandler Lau, third place.

The fourth annual Alameda Spelling Bee held at Otis Elementary School Feb. 2, saw last year’s third place finisher, Ella Banchieri, take the honor as the Island’s top speller for 2019. She and second-place finisher Elena Morishige dueled through spelling increasingly difficult words. The words in the final showdown included: phenomenon, complexion, propinquity, ricochet, tumultuous, surveillance, aggregation (which both spellers misspelled), catastrophe, circumference, dementia and finally, scrumptious.

Thanks to a generous contribution from the Alameda Elks Lodge, the top 10 spellers from the Bee will be sponsored to participate in the Alameda County Spelling Bee, to be held on Saturday, March 16, in San Leandro. Spellers in fourth through sixth grades will participate in the Elementary Bee, while the seventh and eighth graders will participate in the Junior High Bee. 

Spellers who qualified to represent Alameda in San Leandro next month include (in order of performance): Ella Banchieri, eighth grade, Lincoln Middle; Elena Morishige, fourth grade, Otis Elementary; Chandler Lau, eighth grade, Lincoln Middle; Benji Kapelke, sixth grade, Bay Farm Middle; Kira Hannigan, fifth grade, Bay Farm Elementary; Jacob Song, sixth grade, Lincoln Middle; Myles Handler, sixth grade, Lincoln Middle; Ena Bahk-Pi, fifth grade, Shu Ren International School; Abhinav Mummidi, sixth grade, Lincoln Middle and Cody Tran, sixth grade, Lincoln Middle.

Alternates: Sid Gajare, sixth grade, Bay Farm Middle and Alexander Makarov, sixth grade, Lincoln Middle.

In the local Bee, the top middle and elementary finishers receive medals and the top five receive trophies courtesy of Alameda Advertising & Recognition. Other prizes and refreshments were provided by: Cookiebar Creamery, La Val’s Pizza, Peet’s Coffee and Toy Safari. Alameda Sun provided advertising support.

The Bee is a volunteer effort spearheaded by Alameda parent Chuck Kapelke. His all-volunteer team included: Michael Jonas; Kira Foster; J.C. Johnson; the poets laureate, Cathy Dana and Gene Kahane, who served as the Bee’s judges and Alameda Sun Co-Founder and Co-Publisher, Eric J. Kos, who served as spell master.   

As the Bee got underway, Dana had the room perform breathing exercises to relax and reduce stress while Kahane had the kids recite a pledge he composed (bottom).

Next year’s Bee date is already set for Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.

The Speller’s Pledge
Gene Kahane

I stand today,
And make the pledge,
To live my life,
On the cutting edge.
To read real books,
And learn great words,
And celebrate,
Being a nerd!
To do my best,
And never hurry,
A spelling warrior,
Like Stephen Curry!