Regional Spelling Bees – Tempe, Chandler & Gilbert


High hopes and some impressive brain power were on display at three elementary school district spelling bees in January. More than 70 children competed in Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert spelling bees, vying for the chance to represent their districts in upcoming regionals as well as the state event.

A few children had to stand on tip-toe to reach the microphone before a moderator stepped in to lower the mike. Some asked for a word’s definition, as the words got progressively harder. The auditoriums were filled with parents and teachers who silently urged them on.

Each of the finalists received a trophy, ribbon and book store gift card from Assistance League of East Valley, which partnered with Arizona Education Foundation to sponsor bees in Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert.

Isabel Matos, seventh grader at Wood Elementary School, won the Tempe District championship with the word, “consonants.” In Chandler, Joshua Anderson, sixth grader at Basha Accelerated Middle School, correctly spelled “torotoro,” which is a kingfisher with an orange beak, to win the Chandler District contest. Sifarth Rahaman, fourth grader at Harris Elementary, successfully spelled “beleaguered” and “cilantro” to become the Gilbert District champion.

Regional spelling bees are open to the public. The Region 1 bee for Tempe, Kyrene and Mesa will be at 9 a.m. Feb. 24 at Franklin at Brimhall School, 4949 E. Southern, Mesa. The Region 6 bee for Chandler, Gilbert and Higley will be at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at Williams Field High School, 2076 S. Higley, Gilbert.

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 2019 Arizona Spelling Bee on March 23 at Arizona PBS, 500 N. Central, Phoenix.

Finalists in Tempe were Lilly Lee-Tsosie, fifth grader at Carminati; Kerrington Milham-Shankster, fifth grader at Rover; Joshua Whipple, Connolly seventh grader, and Darrian Leland, Tempe Academy eighth grader.

Chandler finalists who will go on to the regionals are Adam Teets from Knox Elementary; Nikasha Kapadia, Bogle Jr. High; Nealin Banerjee, Arizona College Prep-Erie; Mia Smith, Chandler Traditional Academy-Freedom; Emma Xi, Chandler Traditional Academy-Goodman; Kassia Crouse, Willis Jr. High; Bryce Pasero, Auxier Elementary; Zakk Bolton, Chandler Traditional Academy-Humphrey; and Sofia Westblom, Arizona College Prep-Oakland.

Gilbert finalists are Arturo Pacheco, Gilbert Classical Academy; Audrey King, South Valley Jr. High; Ayan Islam, Neely Traditional Academy; Leonardo Hotta; Kincade Phelps, Augusta Ranch; Pravindi Gurusinghe, Mesquite Jr. High; and Kayden Romero, Desert Ridge Jr. High.

Assistance League of East Valley is an all-volunteer organization which provides nearly 10,000 elementary students and homeless teens 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.

by Sarah Auffret