A Fremont fifth-grader spent countless hours studying a dictionary but also leaned on his knowledge of ethnic food, to win a recent spelling bee in Stockton.

Sahir Qureshi, 10, completed 13 rounds in the contest by correctly spelling "tiramisu," "truculent" and other words before making it to the final round of the 2013 California State Elementary Spelling Bee on Saturday.

Sahir, a Niles Elementary student, then correctly spelled "prosciutto" to take home the top prize.

He bested 60 fellow elementary school students from schools in 30 counties statewide, said Paige Johnson, a Niles Elementary teacher who attended the competition.

Sahir, who is a Boy Scout, has a wide range of interests, such as swimming competitively, forming a robotics team, playing the piano and joining a band called "Game Over," Johnson said.

"He is everything you would ever want in a child," she said. "He's bright and curious but also sweet and extremely modest."

Jim Morris, Fremont's superintendent of schools, said Sahir is an avid reader who prepared for the competition by studying a dictionary that contains 33,000 words.

"It was so fun to see Sahir win," Morris said. "And now, I sure know how to spell prosciutto."

Anish Punaroor, a sixth-grader from Parkmont Elementary in Fremont, also represented Alameda County at the contest.

Washington Manor basketball league champs

The 11-member Washington Manor Middle School sixth-grade boys' basketball team walked off the court with top honors April 18.

The Howling Wolves of San Lorenzo Unified beat East Avenue Middle School of Livermore to win the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District league championship, 40-10.

Team members Clemente Cahayag, Leo Santiago, Michael Fregillana, Julius Santillana, Charlie Wheeler, Elliot Oliver, James Huang, Aaron Beck, Jalen Williams, Victor Saucido, and Ruben Martinez were coached by Jerry Delos Reyes, officials said.

The school's seventh- and eighth-grade boys' basketball teams each won their respective Southern Alameda County Middle School Athletic League championship Jan. 28 in Castro Valley.

Irvington High honored for civic participation

A Fremont school has received a state award in recognition of its student service programs.

Irvington High has been given the Civic Learning Award, which recognizes a school's emphasis on civic participation and identifies successful programs for other schools to imitate.

Irvington High was honored, in part, for its "Benchmark Projects," which asks students in the ninth, 10th and 12th grades to identify social or environmental needs, then design and implement projects that find solutions. The school also was recognized for offering Global Glimpse, a travel club in which students perform service projects while visiting other countries.

As a result of those and other school programs, a typical Irvington High class contributes more than 47,000 hours of community service before graduating, said Cheryl Cook-Kallio, an Irvington teacher in advanced placement history and government.

"We're very excited to be recognized by the state in this manner," said Cook-Kallio, who also serves as Pleasanton's vice mayor. "That's what we want in a civic democracy -- students to apply what they've learned in school to participating in democracy and government."

Irvington was one of 22 public high schools this year to receive the award, which is co-sponsored by Tom Torlakson, the state's superintendent of public instruction, and Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

A ceremony celebrating the school's award is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday at Irvington High's Valhalla Theater, 41800 Blacow Road in Fremont.

Homeroom is a weekly roundup of news from schools in the greater Hayward and Tri-City areas.