Alameda County 10-year-old is top elementary-grade speller

Prosciutto. As delicious as it is, it’s tough enough to pronounce the Italian word for the dry-cured spiced ham, let alone spell it.

But that feat was achieved by 10-year-old Sahir Qureshi, a fifth grader from Alameda County who, after 13 rounds, bested 60 other contestants in the California State Elementary Spelling Bee at the San Joaquin County Office of Education April 20. It was the third year SJCOE has hosted the event for fourth- to sixth-graders from 30 counties.

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Close on Qureshi’s heels, the top 7 finalists were Jillian Raffert, San Joaquin County; Anne Burdette, Santa Barbara County; Shakson Isaac, Riverside County; Mridini Vijay, Placer County; Aditya Mishra, Placer County; Alex Topp, Solano County; and Nicolas Keys, Amador County.

“I am inspired by these young people from throughout the state, who are truly students of the English language. It is exciting to see their willingness to complete at the highest level and do so with class, commitment and confidence,” said San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts. “These students study for hours, days and months outside of their classrooms. One only has to see this event to understand that with students like these, our future is bright.”

Grand Canyon University sponsored the event and provided trophies and prizes for the finalists and champion.