by Ray Newton
Home-schooled sixth-grader Aliyah Alpert spelled “foudroyant” correctly in the state’s spelling bee March 19, beating out 26 students by the 19th round. Next stop Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Hosted by LeVar Burton, the June competition will debut on ION, Bounce and Laff and be available on cable and streaming for the semifinals June 1 and finals June 2.
The 11-year-old Prescott student Prescott student was fresh off her fourth straight win in the 76th annual Yavapai County Spelling Bee Feb. 5 where she spelled “lumbar” correctly.
The county competition was held at the Camp Verde Middle School and went 17 rounds.
The runner-up was Alex Boes from Camp Verde Middle School; third place went to Andrew James Good of Granite Mountain School, Prescott; and fourth place to Sawyer Frank of Franklin Phonetic School, Prescott Valley.
Dozens of fellow students, parents, friends and observers watched as the county 20 competitors ranging from grades 2 through 8 battled through round after round of spelling words selected from an unabridged dictionary.
The students represented public, charter, private and in some cases, home-schooled students, from throughout the county.
Afterward, the diminutive winner, dressed in her favorite yellow dress decorated with bumblebees, said, “It feels great, but honest, I’m kind of relieved for I felt a little pressure. I just hope I can study hard enough to win the state bee and achieve my ultimate goal of getting into the semifinals of the national bee.”
Seems fitting that her winning word in the state contest means: “thundering, dazzling or stunning.”
Aliyah’s parents, Mark and Brenda Alpert, said Aliyah and her twin brother Jacob have always been great students and good readers. Aliyah also speaks fluent Spanish. Beyond that, she reads incessantly and plays the violin and loves bluegrass music. She wants to be an exotic animal veterinarian.
Both Aliyah and her brother have completed their first years of algebra and geometry. Both also have taken flying lessons.
“Cyber-technology has not yet replaced one of the fundamental skills youngsters learn when they are in elementary school,” said Tim Carter, Yavapai County Superintendent of Education and a past president of the Arizona State Board of Education.
Carter and colleagues from the Yavapai County Education Service Agency coordinated the competition. They included Jennifer Nelson, elections coordinator; Tara O’Neil, pronouncer; and Jennifer Miller, Ray Newton and Karen Otis, judges.
Winning county students received cash prizes, plaques and embossed metal medallions on a neck ribbon.