Official Bee Honors Island’s Top Spellers

Eric J. Kos &nbsp&nbsp Alameda’s top five spellers for 2020 include, left to right: Benjamin Kapelke, Akhil Mummidi, Grace Tan, Callista Frederick and Julian Chea. The top ten finishers all received prizes from local Alameda businesses.

Official Bee Honors Island’s Top Spellers

The 2020 Alameda Spelling Bee was held last Saturday at Otis Elementary School. Roughly 45 students from more than a dozen schools participated in the competition, which included a written test followed by an oral spelling competition.

The written test included difficult words like svelte, circumference, necessarily, fortnight (made especially difficult given the popular video game using an alternate spelling), clique, ultimatum, vaccine, caffeine, vacuum, antithesis, rhapsody and euphoria. The top score in the written test was earned by Julian Chea, who only missed one out of 30 words. He received two tickets to the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex for this accomplishment.

The winner of the oral competition (and the Bee champion) was Callista Frederick, a fifth-grader who lives in Alameda and attends Lincoln Elementary in Oakland, where her mother is a teacher. 

She beat out Grace Tan, who misspelled the word “anonymous,” which Callista Frederick was able to spell correctly before spelling the final word, achievement. The final barrage of words included judicious, crucial, surrogate, apparition, nationality and dirigible.

The event was generously sponsored by the Alameda Elks Lodge.The Elks’ donation will enable the top 10 spellers to participate in the Alameda County Spelling Bee, held on Saturday, March 7, in San Leandro. The top two spellers in that competition will move on to the state Bee in May.
Alameda’s top 10 spellers
1) Callista Frederick, fifth grade, Lincoln Elementary;
2) Grace Tan, sixth grade, Lincoln Middle School;
3) Julian Chea, seventh grade, Lincoln Middle School;
4) Benjamin Kapelke, seventh grade, Bay Farm Middle School;
5) Akhil Mummidi, fifth grade, Earhart Elementary;
6) Abhinav Mummidi, seventh grade, Lincoln Middle School;
7) Myles Handler, seventh grade, Lincoln Middle School;
8) James Chea, fifth grade, Otis Elementary;
9) Grace Chen, fifth grade, Otis Elementary;
10) Judah Nyquist, fifth grade, Otis Elementary.

The two alternates will be  Alexander Makarov, seventh grade, Lincoln Middle School; and Isa Qasem, seventh grade, Bay Farm Elementary. The top 10 included two sets of brothers, Akhil and Abhinav Mummidi and James and Julian Chea.

Several Alameda businesses donated prizes for the Bee. The top 10 spellers received gift certificates to Toy Safari and a coupon for a free scoop at Tucker’s Ice Cream. The top five spellers also received $10 gift certificates to Star Pizza and a coupon for a free ice cream sandwich at Cookie Bar, as well as a trophy supplied to the Bee at a discount by Alameda Advertising & Recognition. The winner received a $20 gift certificate to Books, Inc. Alameda Theatre donated the tickets used as the prize for the written test.

Alameda Sun was the Bee’s media sponsor. Peet’s Coffee donated two large containers of coffee for the event.

The Bee is a volunteer effort spearheaded by Alameda parent Chuck Kapelke. His all-volunteer team included: Michael Jonas, Kira Foster and Shirley Clem. Alameda Sun co-founder and co-publisher, Eric J. Kos served as spellmaster (reading the words), while Alameda’s poets laureate, Cathy Dana and Gene Kahane, served as the Bee’s judges.

Cathy Dana helped the students relax before the competition by doing breathing exercises, while Gene Kahane had the entrants recite a “speller’s pledge as follows:

I hereby promise,
To do my best,
On the spelling bee,
And every test,
To do my chores,
And make my bed,
And when I bike,
A helmet on my head,
And when I’m older,
No matter how absurd,
To get a tattoo,
Of my favorite word.