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‘Kasha' is winning word at Yuma spelling bee
Always go with your gut instinct.
That's the strategy that Pamela Pircaro took to heart Wednesday as she mulled over the correct spelling of “kasha” during the final round of the 2011 Yuma County Spelling Bee.
Pamela, an eighth-grader at Harvest Preparatory Academy, accurately spelled “kasha” after also giving the correct spelling of the word “angstrom,” which was misspelled by runner-up Tatyana Martynova.
Abigail Myers, a sixth-grade teacher at Harvest Prep, explained that Pamela's knowledge of words and their origins is absolutely amazing. “I think she could have gone on and on all day spelling words correctly.”
Pamela's father, Mark Pircaro, agreed with Myers and said he is very proud of his daughter's accomplishment.
When asked what he did to help Pamela to prepare, he responded, “She did the overwhelming majority of the work. She just gave me a list and said, ‘Here, pronounce these words, please' — that was really the extent of my help.”
Pamela commented that she had been in spelling bees since third grade and had placed second in last year's Yuma County Spelling Bee.
She admitted that a contributing factor to being the runner-up last year was she didn't understand the pronunciation of the word. That is why this year, Pamela made sure to continually ask for the origin and the definition of each word so she could be clear on which word she was supposed to spell.
Pamela said she was extremely excited to win as it is the last year she is eligible to compete because of the age limit.
She noted that now she has about a month to prepare for the state spelling bee competition in March at Arizona State University.
Tatyana, an eighth-grade student from Calvary Baptist School, said she was so happy to receive second place after spending so much time studying various words with the help of her teachers and family.
While on stage, she said, you can't let your nervousness get the best of you, especially when you get up to the microphone.
“You just have to take a deep breath and keep spelling,” said Tatyana, who is from Russia.
Zeeshan Jawaid, a sixth-grade student from Carpe Diem Academy, placed third when he misspelled the word “pacifism” and conceded his title as champion after winning the county spelling bees in 2009 and 2010.
“I feel that I did pretty good,” said Zeeshan, adding that he believed that the pronouncer did not enunciate the word correctly and that is why he ultimately spelled it wrong.
After the competition had been completed, Zeeshan's mother contested the issue, but at that point it was too late to be disputed because the matter had not been raised within the proper time frame.
Finishing in fourth place was McKenzie Millner, an eighth-grade student from St. Francis of Assisi School. Millner was eliminated after misspelling the word “protocol” in the 11th round.
Carolyn Marquez, office administrator of the county school superintendent and co-coordinator of the spelling bee, said she couldn't believe the competition lasted almost 20 rounds.
“I thought we were almost going to run out of words,” Marquez said with a laugh.
Karen Phillips, the Yuma Sun's Newspapers in Education manager, was also impressed with the abilities of the students in the competition.
“I think the kids came really prepared this year for a spelling bee and they asked all the right questions. They just did a phenomenal job — I'm really proud of them.”
Phillips added that the top two participants received a plaque for their accomplishments during the pizza lunch, compliments of Domino's, one of the bee's sponsors.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858.