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Prescott girl has high hopes for spelling bee

Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 21:54:12-04

PRESCOTT — At age 11, Aliyah Alpert is already a veteran of the Arizona Spelling Bee. She has been competing since the age of 6, spelling words like "edelweiss" and "duplicitous" by the age of 8. She still remembers her first competition.

"I entered a homeschool spelling bee, I had a couple of months to study the list and I ended up getting second so it was super fun for me and I decided to keep practicing and that's how I got where I am," she said.

Alpert is now one of the top contenders in Arizona's annual state spelling bee, which will be held this Saturday, March 19, at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. It's the first time in three years the competition will be held in person. She finished fourth in her last two state competitions, and the older she gets, it becomes more nerve-racking.

"At the time I did it, I wasn't expecting much of myself; it was just a fun hobby so yeah, I was, I'm definitely more nervous," she said.

Alpert is homeschooled, and true to her Prescott roots, she also enjoys horseback riding, and playing the fiddle. She has even posted videos of herself riding a horse, while playing the fiddle and spelling words at the same time. She prepares by studying lists of words, and paying attention to word origin and alternative pronunciations for clues. Even so, like every speller, at some point she gets a word she doesn't know.

"Some words you just you've never heard of the origin or don't make sense of the origin, or come from a name or they don't know where the origin is. So you just guess for some words," she said.

It would seem nearly impossible to memorize them all. For the county spelling bee alone, Alpert said, there is a list of about 4000 words. Alpert credits some of her success to being an avid reader, and hours of study sessions with her dad.

Her advice to young spellers? "Study hard and don't give up."

The winner of this year's Arizona State Spelling Bee will go on to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee outside of Washington, D.C. which will be held June 1 and 2.