Speller Earns Bid in State Bee

Erik Purins    Lincoln Middle School student Hazel Purins will represent Alameda County in the State Spelling Bee.

Lincoln Middle School student Hazel Purins qualified for the state championship by taking second place at the ninth annual Alameda County Junior High Spelling Bee held last Saturday at Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley. Just the top two contestants advance to the state competition. Purins and her “rival” Anisha Rao will represent Alameda County at the Junior High State Spelling Bee Championship set for Saturday, May 5, in San Rafael.

Adriana Argyriou, a fifth grader at Haight Elementary School finished fourth in the 10th annual Alameda County Elementary Spelling Bee and earned a trophy.

For Hazel, finishing second represented an undeniable case of art imiatating life. She had just finished performing in a local stage production of the 12th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Hazel played the part of Olive, the kid who comes in second place.

“We were surprised by the difficulty of many of the final words,” said Purins’ mom, Carrie. “For example, the fifth-place speller was eliminated by mispelling ‘dactylography’ and the fourth by ‘hyacinths.’”

When it was down to the final two, Hazel faced Rao, who won the county bee and earned first runner up honors previously. These two girls have competed against each other in the final rounds of the county bee before, both at the elementary and junior high level, since Hazel has competed in the bee the past four years.

“It was fun for me as a parent to see them now as young ladies, still fiercely competing,” said Carrie. “Hazel gave her a run for her money, correctly spelling ‘iridescent’ and ‘synchronicity’ to Rao’s ‘larrikin’ and ‘incandescence.” 

The fatal misspelling came on “condescension.” Rao was able to correctly spell condescension, and then was given the word “zibeline,” which she spelled correctly to win. 

After the bee, Hazel zoomed off to a figure skating competition in San Francisco, where she and her performance team also finished in second place. “Since there were only two entries in their category they weren’t nearly as excited about that ranking as Hazel was in the spelling bee,” Carrie said.

The Purins are a bit disappointed, however, that Lincoln Middle School is not enrolled in the Scripps program. As a result, Hazel is unable to compete in the local Scripps bee and has no chance of advancing to national-level competition. Eighth grade is the final year of eligibility for Scripps. She does, however, look forward to competing in the Alameda city and possibly county bees next year, since they allow ninth graders.