The top winners in the 72nd annual Yavapai County Spelling Bee were
(l to r) Makala Boyd—1st place; Aliyah Alpert—2nd place; Jaxon Moore—3rd place; and Logan Darrt, 4th place. (Photo by Ray Newton)
When you were a second-grader, could you spell “matriarch”? Or “chronology”?
Or “pistachio”? How about “musicale”?
For that matter, could you spell those same words when you were an eighth-grader?
You would have had to in order to win the 72nd annual Yavapai County Spelling Bee in February. The event is the oldest continuous spelling bee in the state of Arizona.
Two students spelled these words correctly and outlasted 28 other contestants from throughout the county. What’s more, they had to work their way, along with the other contestants, through 13 rounds and a list of 121 words, each one progressively more difficult.
Dozens of fellow students, parents and family, friends and observers held their breath, applauded or sighed as students — representing grades second through eighth from throughout the county — stepped to the microphone at the Ruth Street Theater in Prescott. The students, some from public schools and others from private or charter schools or homeschooled, heard words selected and pronounced from an unabridged dictionary. They then had to say the word, spell it and hope they made it to the next round.
It was the final four rounds, though, that had everyone enthralled. The two finalists were homeschooled second-grader Aliyah Alpert competing against eighth-grader Makala Boyd, a student at Bradshaw Mountain Middle School in Prescott Valley.
When Boyd finally won by spelling the two words “pistachio” and “musicale” correctly, she earned the right to go to the statewide Arizona Spelling Bee March 24. She also won $250 from sponsor BMO Harris Bank.
The winner at the state spelling bee goes to the 93rd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington, D.C.
Alpert won $150 and is the alternate for the state spelling bee.
The third- and fourth-place recipients were Mountain View Elementary sixth-grader Jaxon Moore ($100) and Humboldt Elementary School fifth-grader Logan Darrt ($50).
Yavapai County Superintendent of Education Tim Carter, whose agency organized the spelling bee, commended all the contestants, their parents and their schools.
“These youngsters represent the student population of Yavapai County very well,” he said. “I am proud of them.”