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Champion defends his title in Yuma County Spelling Bee
Two spelling bee finalists kept their collective cool through the final rounds of the competition Wednesday, but in the end it was the f-l-a-m-b-o-y-a-n-t finish that clinched it for the winner.
Zeeshan Jawaid, a fifth-grade student at Pueblo Elementary School, spelled that word, not only winning the 2010 Yuma County Spelling Bee but retaining the crown he won in 2009.
"It was an incredible competition and everybody who participated was great," Zeeshan said.
Zeeshan said he had to push himself to the limit and practice over and over to be perfect — yet nobody is perfect, he admitted.
Zeeshan spelled "flamboyant" after correctly spelling "rhetoric," a word previously misspelled by runner-up Pamela Pircaro. And with that, Pamela, a student at Harvest Preparatory Academy, graciously conceded the title to Zeeshan.
"I just got really tired going back and forth," Pamela said. "But I feel happy and I think I did pretty well for my first time in the spelling bee."
Mark Pircaro, Pamela's father, said he was very proud of her and thankful she went as far as she did.
"I'd like to add, we (my wife) were very impressed with the child who won. His dedication is remarkable. And like Pam, he is obviously blessed with a great memory."
Saika Somjee Jawaid, Zeeshan's mother, said he worked much harder this year, reviewing Merriam-Webster's online "Spell It!" three times.
"I want to thank Zeeshan's principal, Lynn O'Connor, and Mike O'Connor," she said. "He coached Zeeshan the last couple of days."
O'Connor, Pueblo Elementary School principal, said her husband Mike tried to put a little fun into Zeeshan's tutorials. She added he practiced every day.
"His parents are incredibly supportive," she said. "He's an all-around fun kid."
Zeeshan said it is his dream to win the state spelling bee in Phoenix at the end of March and advance to the national bee in May in Washington, D.C.
"This time I'm going to study straight from the dictionary. And that's hard."
Zeeshan topped a field of 50 competitors in the 64th county spelling bee, organized by the Yuma Sun, Newspapers in Education and the Yuma County School Superintendent's Office.
Finishing in third place was Selena Barrera, of Woodard Junior High School, who bowed out on the word "kitsch," while Jose Valencia of Dateland Elementary School finished fourth after missing the spelling of "allegory."
Carolyn Marquez, office administrator of the county school superintendent and co-coordinator of the spelling bee, said she believes this was the first year in its history a champion has successfully defended his title.
After the competition, all participants were treated to a pizza lunch compliments of Domino's, one of the bee's sponsors. Every participant received a spelling bee T-shirt while the winner and runner-up each took home a plaque.
Other sponsors were Arizona Public Service, Yuma Investment Group, Bill Barenholtz, Virgil Todd, Coca-Cola and Jon Pitts.
Karen Phillips, the Yuma Sun's NIE manager, said she impressed by the tenacious competitive spirit between all participants.
"It was awesome seeing 50 kids on stage. At one time when it was down to 10, I really did think we'd be here until dinner and not just lunch."
William Roller can be reached at
email@example.com or 539-6858.