2008 State Elementary Spelling Championship
Sixty-one of the state’s top elementary school spellers met in Northern California on Saturday, May 17, to compete in the California State Elementary Spelling Championship. These students, representing 32 California counties, had already won school, region, and county spelling bees. Each county’s first and second place spellers were eligible to compete in this state event coordinated by the Sonoma County Office of Education.
The state spelling competition was completed in 23 rounds. Santa Cruz County’s Viraj Shah, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School, won the top prize by correctly spelling telegraphese, then disseminate. He received a trophy and a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond. His school will receive a wall clock commemorating his achievement.
Santa Barbara County’s Quinn Hensley, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Washington Elementary School, earned the second place trophy and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond. An 11-year-old sixth-grader, Akshayraj Aitha, from Alameda County’s Eleanor Murray Fallon Middle School was awarded third place and a $250 U.S. Savings Bond.
The competition was held at Person Theatre on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park. The Chabot Space and Science Center was this year’s partner agency. The event featured space decorations, twinkling lights, and balloons and included a virtual tour of the Science Center.
Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Carl Wong welcomed participants and guests to the event and showed a video greeting from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. Anne Harris-Gebb, a teacher at Jefferson School in Cloverdale, served as spell master. The competition was judged by Jefferson School Teacher Trish Healey (lead judge); California Highway Patrol Captain Mark Rasmussen; Sonoma County Office of Education Assistant Superintendent Don Russell; and ABC7 Morning News Co-anchor Eric Thomas.