Emami reaches ‘acme’ at bee

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Tomé Elementary sixth-grader Yasemin Emami is on a winning streak.

She won the 2013 Valencia County Spelling Bee Tuesday, after winning first place in the district spelling bee, and she also won first place in the Spanish spelling bee.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia County Spelling Bee winners include first-place winner, Tomé Elementary sixth-grader Yasemin Emami, left; second-place winner, Belen Middle School eighth-grader Pearl Andrews, center; and third-place winner, Central Elementary fourth-grader Jace McNabb, right.

Pearl Andrews, a Belen Middle School eighth-grader, was the second place winner, and Central Elementary fourth-grader Jace McNabb took third.

The winning word was, “acme,” from the Greek, meaning a point, top, the highest point or peak.

“What is the origin of the word?” Emami asked. “Can you use that word in a sentence? What is the definition?”

The questions gave her important information and clues about the word’s spelling, but they also bought her needed time to mull over each word and its possible spelling.

That’s one of her strategies for spelling correctly, she said. Another is to study the words often.

“I write the words down, and then my parents test me,” Emami said. “Then my parents go over the words I had trouble with.”

She studies even on weekends, she said. But it also helps that she loves to read.

“She reads huge books,” her mother, Leslie Rojas, said.

“I read the ‘Harry Potter’ series, and I like the ‘Inkheart’ books,” Emami said. “‘Inkheart,’ ‘Inkspell,’ ‘Inkdeath.’”

By the fourth round of the competition, all but four students remained. Some tears were shed when contestants misspelled their word and had to join the audience and sit with their parents.

The remaining four spellers battled it out for another six rounds before the three winners were culled from the group.

Andrews’ mishap came on the word “origami,” when she placed an “e” where the “a” should be. It was one of those errors similar to McNabb’s. He knew the word he misspelled, but his mind just went blank, his father said. That’s what really burned for him.

“I was too confident, I thought I knew it,” said Andrews. “And I just said the wrong thing.”

Many of the words were familiar, every day words, but some were tricky, such as “jitney” and “salubrious.”

“I was really surprised when I made it to the final round,” Emami said. “I’m glad that I’m able to go to state. I feel proud and excited that I was able to do this.”

“But it’s tough to win the state, it’s very rough,” said Michelle Gammill, Los Lunas Middle School language arts teacher and spelling bee coordinator. “You can do it — it’s just really hard.”

“Do your best and no matter what happens, at least you tried,” Emami said.

The 2013 New Mexico Spelling Bee will be held at Sandia Preparatory School que at 9 a.m., Saturday, March 23.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.