Zhuang v-i-c-t-o-r-i-o-u-s in No. Prov. Spelling Bee

Zhuang v-i-c-t-o-r-i-o-u-s in No. Prov. Spelling Bee

Alisha Zhuang, a 6th-grader at Birchwood Middle School, is congratulated by Bruce Butler, principal of McGuire Elementary, after she successfully spelled the word “archive” to win the North Providence School District Spelling Bee. She will represent the town at the state-level spelling bee on March 14. (Breeze photos by Charles Lawrence)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – As her competition on the North Providence High School auditorium stage quickly dwindled, Alisha Zhuang saw her path to victory unfolding in record time.

After a third-place finish in the North Providence District Spelling Bee in 2019, Zhuang, a 6th-grader at Birchwood Middle School, cruised to the top in just five rounds last week, and will now represent the town in the Rhode Island State Spelling Bee, sponsored by The Valley Breeze, on March 14.

Zhuang is the daughter of Xiaofeng and Huiting Zhuang, longtime town residents.

All 15 other participants were eliminated in five rounds at the Feb. 4 bee, five contestants in round one, six in round two, two in round three, one in round four, and runner-up Issac Remy, a 5th-grader from Centredale School, in round five.

Zhuang said she was excited and proud to win the local bee, but is nervous about moving on to the state bee. Though confident in her abilities, she said she didn’t do anything special to prepare for competition.

“She’s reading books all the time,” said her mother, Xiaofeng, explaining why her daughter is such a natural speller. “She even brought a book here to read tonight.”

On her short road to victory, Zhuang correctly spelled amino in round one, barrier in round two, trifecta in round three, and appetite in round four.

With two students left, she and Remy came to the front of the stage for a final face-off that often lasts several rounds. But Remy missed on the spelling of vortices, the plural of vortex, and Zhuang then spelled it correctly. For the win, she was then given the word archives, and she confidently nailed it.

The 2020 District Spelling Bee represented an opportunity for someone new to take the spelling crown in North Providence, as Yilmaz Kasapoglu, winner of the previous three local bees, aged out of the competition after coming in as the runner-up at last year’s State Spelling Bee.

McGuire Elementary Principal Bruce Butler served as pronouncer for his first district bee. Judges were Brian Gilmore, Thomas Mellen, and Louise Seitsinger.

Others participating in the 2020 bee included:

• Grade 4 – Elizabeth O’Connell, of Centredale, Bahoz Emlek, of Greystone, Daniel Thompson, of McGuire, McLean Polak, of Stephen Olney, Makayla Freeman, of Whelan.

• Grade 5 – Kylie Geremia, of Greystone, Graeyson Thomas, of Stephen Olney, Lochlan Burke, of McGuire, and Ayden Sousa, of Whelan.

• Grade 6 – Jeremiah Nouel, of Ricci.

• Grade 7 – Caleb Sical, of Birchwood, Ceejai Joaquin, of Ricci.

• Grade 8 – Francesco DeCellio, Birchwood (school runner-up participating in place of winner Christian Archbold), and Thomas Niosi, of Ricci.

Fourth-grader Elizabeth O’Connell, a student at Centredale School, is asked to spell “commotion,” the first word in the North Providence School District Spelling Bee on Feb. 4, in the auditorium of North Providence High School. Bruce Butler, left, principal of McGuire Elementary School, was the Spelling Bee facilitator. Judges were Louise Seitsinger, North Providence assistant superintendent; Thomas Mellen, principal of Ricci Middle School; and Brian Gilmore, principal of Birchwood Middle School.
The final two contestants are, seated, Issac Remy, a 5th-grader at Centredale Elementary, and Alisha Zhuang, a 6th-grader at Birchwood Middle School.
Fifth-grader Lochlan Burke of McGuire Elementary, at right, spells the word “honest.”
Stephen Olney 5th-grader Graeyson Thomas considers the word “ramparts.”