STOCKTON, Calif.—After becoming the first Armenian-American to win the Los Angeles County Spelling Bee in March, 12-year-old Glendale 6th-grader June Musurlian headed to Stockton on May 13, to compete in the 2017 California State Elementary Spelling Bee at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE).
The 58 competitors, who came from 29 of California’s 58 counties, looked like a gathering at the United Nations. The eight finalists, for instance, have parents and grandparents from India, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and South Korea. Musurlian, who finished in a two-way tie for second, has a mother from Hungary and great-grandparents from Western Armenia, who, unlike most of their immediate family, survived the Armenian Genocide.
Musurlian, 6th-grader Andrew Prasetya of Sonoma County, and 6th-grader Ananya Vinay from Fresno County were the only three competitors, of the 58, to make it to the 16th round. Prasetya misspelled “oneiric,” Musurlian misspelled “catamaran,” while returning champion Vinay correctly spelled “dipsomaniac,” to grab the state title for her third and final time.
The competition is for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade county champions and runners-up.
Before misspelling “catamaran” in the 16th round, Musurlian, in the late, tougher rounds, correctly spelled: ceasefire, succeed, clearstory, encrypt, archaic, confrere, esophageal, baccalaureate, pompadour, atrioventricular, and biblioklept.
Musurlian, who earlier this year became the first student in the Glendale Unified School District’s 40-year spelling-bee history, to win three consecutive GUSD district-wide spelling bees, has two more years of eligibility in Glendale, but can no longer compete in elementary-level spelling bees at the city, county, and state levels. She will now focus on the GUSD middle-school bee and on the very competitive Scripps Regional Bee, whose winner travels to the national championship in Washington, D.C. Her last two attempts to make it to the Scripps National Bee will be in 2018 and 2019, after which she will be too old to compete.