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Students compete in Yup’ik spelling bee

By Shannon Ballard 11:28 PM March 25, 2014

Annual spelling bee designed to help preserve the use of Native language

ANCHORAGE – A unique spelling contest helps keep an Alaska Native language alive.

Students from across Anchorage competed in this year’s Yup’ik Spelling Bee for Beginners at the district level on Tuesday at Clark Middle School.

Yup’ik is becoming increasingly uncommon in urban areas, but some of the participants still speak it in their homes.

This annual spelling bee is designed to help preserve the use of the language.

Teachers say Yup’ik is tough to learn because there are so many different dialects.

“Our students practice during their lunchtime. You have to make a lot of priorities in putting the time aside if you want to succeed in doing something like this,” said Marcella McIntyre with the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The best spellers go on to compete at the state Yup’ik Spelling Bee at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School on March 26.

Anchorage School District winners:

  • 1st Place: Taylor Kairaiuak, 7th grade, Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
  • 2nd Place: Emily Tunuchuk, 7th grade, Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
  • 3rd Place: Shiana Williams, 7th grade, Wendler Middle School

Bering Straits School District winners:

  • 1st Place: Ben Atchak, 8th grade, Tukurngailnguq School
  • 2nd Place, Hailey Ambrose, 7th grade, Anthony A. Andrews School
  • 3rd Place: Diane Snowball, 7th grade, Tukurngailnguq School

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