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Sixth Grader Claims Spelling Championship
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Fair Oaks Elementary school student Joseph Yakligian was recently named Champion of the Stanislaus County Elementary Spelling Bee. The sixth grader will travel to compete at the state level next May. Photo Contributed

Oakdale Joint Unified School District can add yet another kudo to its academic cap, as Fair Oaks sixth grader Joseph Yakligian was recently named Spelling Bee Champion for Stanislaus County.

During a county competition hosting over 30 schools earlier this month, Joseph not only survived both rounds, but completed the first one with no missed words. The second round proved a bit tougher as the sixth grader misspelled ophthalmologist and implacability. Two errors, however, turned out to be just a blip on the screen as he was awarded the championship trophy and will now advance to the state level in May of 2019.

“Historically the private schools are the ones that have won Stanislaus County,” Fair Oaks principal Kathy Pinol shared.

Joseph, however, might be a bit different from students sent from the district in the past. The 11-year-old shared it is a moment he has prepared for, for the past three years.

The sixth grader was first chosen for the school spelling bee when he was in fourth grade. An event, he shared, which earned him a second place honor at the school. But that wasn’t enough.

“When I got second place I wanted to win,” he said.

“Then I was studying all year,” he added of his quest to win the school’s Spelling Bee. “I got first place for the next one.”

The first place honor in fifth grade also took Joseph to the County Spelling Bee. That time around he made it through a couple rounds but was eliminated. Back to studying.

“So I’ve been studying for like three years,” he stated.

In his case the studying did not just pay off but created an opportunity not seen by the district in quite some time.

Now with the goal achieved, Joseph will prepare for his state debut. That likely won’t be as easy as the past three. The state competition is oral, versus the seated written format at the school and county level.

“For one there is no word list, so you have to just know words,” he said. “I hope I don’t go too fast.”

There’s also the Junior High Spelling Bee when he gets to seventh grade at Oakdale Junior High. He’s begun studying for that as well.

“Our school motto is, Everyone, everywhere, everyday working to be the best me,” Principal Pinol said, “and he’s my shining star of really working to be the best me. That’s sweet to my heart.”