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Ninety elementary school children competed in Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert spelling bees in January, vying for the chance to represent their districts in upcoming regionals as well as the state event.

The auditoriums were filled with parents and teachers who silently urged them on. Each of the finalists received a trophy, ribbon and bookstore gift card from Assistance League of East Valley, which partnered with Arizona Education Foundation to sponsor bees in the three districts.

Naima Van Paassen, seventh grader at Connolly Middle School, won the Tempe District championship by spelling the word, “serfdom.” Skylar Kulas, eighth grader from Basha Accelerated Middle School, correctly spelled “dactylic” to win the Chandler District first place. Addisyn Frost, seventh grader at Highland Jr. High School, won the Gilbert District contest by spelling “fiduciary.”

Regional spelling bees are open to the public. The Region 1 bee for Tempe, Kyrene and Mesa will be at Kyrene District Office on Feb. 22. The Region 6 bee for Chandler, Gilbert and Higley will be at Mesquite Jr. High School Auditorium on Feb. 20.

All the finalists from each district, not just the champion, will represent their districts in a regional bee. Winners from these events will compete in the 2020 Arizona Spelling Bee on March 21 at Arizona PBS, 500 N. Central, Phoenix.

Finalists in Tempe are Abdullahi Salah, eighth grader at Fees College Preparatory Middle School; Madelyn Martinez, fourth grader at Frank Elementary; Bibhu Parajuli, fourth grader at Broadmor Elementary; and Chloe Cesaretti, sixth grader at Tempe Academy of International Studies.

Chandler finalists who will go on to the regionals include Margaret Wong, eighth grader at Arizona College Prep Oakland; Adam Teets, sixth grader at Knox Gifted Academy; Leela Raj-Sankar, eighth grader at Bogle Jr. High; Andrew Phillips, eighth grader at Willis Jr. High; Sam Pantoja, sixth grader at Ryan Elementary; Santiago Gonzales Herrera, sixth grader at Basha Elementary; Sophie Bregman, sixth grader at Tarwater Elementary; Ryleigh Beitler-Keller, sixth grader at Weinberg Elementary; and Addison Balthazor, sixth grader at Riggs Elementary.

Gilbert finalists are Emily Mabb, seventh grader at Desert Ridge Jr. High; Stone Guymon, eighth grader at Gilbert Classical Academy; Natalie Baron, fourth grader at Ashland Ranch Elementary; Matthew Weech, sixth grader at Carol Rae Ranch Elementary; Austin Johnson, seventh grader at Greenfield Jr. High; Tyler Mantanona, fifth grader at Canyon Rim Elementary; and Sifarth Rahaman, fifth grader at Harris Elementary.

Assistance League of East Valley is an all-volunteer organization which provides nearly 10,000 elementary students with new school clothing, uniforms, shoes and hygiene items each year. Major source of funding is their thrift shop at 2326 N. Alma School Rd., Chandler.


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