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Alex Jurich - 2014 State Champion!
 
Alex Jurich of Hamilton Middle School is the 2014 Colorado State Spelling Bee champion.  284 students from all over Colorado competed.  34 spellers made it to the finals.  12 of them are Denver Public Schools students.  Alex battled Roshini Narayanan of Ridgeview Classical School for 12 rounds before Roshini misspelled "abaca," a fiber from a banana plant, and Alex correctly spelled "diptych," a 2-piece hinged panel, to claim the championship.  Top-ten finishers from DPS are Tessa Berns (DSA) 3rd place, Molly Berenbaum (Morey) 5th place, and Evie Jurich (Hamilton) and Tia Karkos (Slavens) tied for 10th place.  Below is Alex’s story in his own words. 
 
 
Alex’s story.  My spelling career started in first grade at Montclair Elementary.  We were provided with lists of spelling words which my twin sister, Evie, and I completed by the middle of the year.  As a result the assistant librarian started a spelling club which Evie and I took part in from 3rd to 5th grade.  My parents realized that we showed a lot of interest in spelling and we watched movies about the bee, Akeelah and the Bee, and the National Spelling Bee itself.
 
I moved on to Hamilton Middle School.  I wasn‛t really thinking about spelling at the time but a friend from elementary school told Mrs. Meyer, the semantics teacher, about Evie and I.  Mrs. Meyer sought us out and asked us to join the Hamilton semantics team.  We signed up and that’s how my spelling career really kicked off.  During my 6th grade year I applied myself and studied hard.  With Mrs. Meyer’s help I made it to the state spelling bee, made the finals, and finished in 15th place in my first year of competitive spelling.  I missed the word "Ichabod," neglecting the fact it had Greek origins.
 
It was at the state spelling bee where the DPS spelling coach (Mr. Schaefer) learned about me.  He started coaching me at home, and that summer, I started going to the Summer Semantics sessions.  The next year, in 7th grade, I didn’t study as diligently and didn’t do as well in the preliminary spelling bees.  I still wouldn’t have made it past Himanvi Kopuri, my classmate at Hamilton, who was state champion that year.  But I did place 3rd at the state bee and was happy with that.  In 8th grade I decided I would try my hardest ever.  I learned all the words in Spell It! and finished the Consolidated Word List.  I made it to the state spelling bee again and finished in first place, correctly spelling the word "diptych."  My mom later told me that watching Roshini and I going back and forth for 12 rounds was nail-biting.  We both missed words and had chances to win, but luckily I finally prevailed.
 
My family and I had an amazing time in Washington at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  At the first meeting they give you a Bee Keeper Book with information about all of the other spellers.  It became sort of an autograph book.  At the barbecue I made friends with Teddy Schoenfeld, the winner from Boulder.  Later I made friends with Isabelle Simmons from Maryland, Jae Canetti from Virginia, and Nicholas Rushlow, a high school student who keeps returning to the bee each year. 
I made friends with Vanya Shivashankar.  She and her friends nicknamed me "Michigan Sweatshirt."  I spelled my first two words correctly, tamarind and Beefalo, and made it to the semi-finals.  I didn’t make the finals however, finishing in 47th place.  Scripps has lots of activities for the spellers and we got to tour Washington D.C.
 
To finish up, I would like to thank my coaches, Mrs. Meyer and Mr. Schaefer, for helping me go through this whole experience.  I’d like to thank my friends and family for encouraging me throughout the whole thing.  They all helped me succeed.  Spelling has been a big part of my life, and it’ll be hard to let go after having so much fun and making so many friends.
 
Alex is now a junior at George Washington High School in the IB program.  He assisted Mr. Schaefer at this year’s City Written spelling contest.



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