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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 22, 2003 - Issue 83


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On Your Mark, Get Set, Spell! Navajo Spelling Bee Soon Underway

by Jim Maniaci Diné Bureau Gallup Independent

Speeling BeeWINDOW ROCK - Champions, runners-up and alternates are hard at work spelling words from their paideia exotic words their parents most likely have never heard.

It's all part of preparing for the annual Independent-Navajo Nation Spelling Bee on March 20 at the Peterson Zah-Navajo Nation Museum-Library with the winner advancing on to Washington, D.C., May 25 to 30 to compete with about 250 other top spellers. The newspaper pays for the week-long trip to America's capital city, with one chaperone.

The actual two-day competition will be May 28 and 29 to see who will succeed Pratyush Buddiga, who won the 75th Bee as a 13-year-old Mountain Ridge Middle School student in Colorado Springs, Colo., as America's best youthful speller of the English language.

Based on a Greek word that means to educate the child, the paideia is a handbook with various levels of difficulty in spelling words. Students also practice from much larger dictionaries.

During the contest, each boy or girl comes to the microphone, hears a word pronounced, repeats the pronunciation, then spells it letter by letter. The student also can ask for the definition to be given as well as having the word used in a sentence, before beginning his or her spelling of the word.

All five agencies have selected their winners, with the top two from each grade (or the alternate, if one of them can't compete that day,) qualifying for the Navajo Nation finals in Window Rock.

By agency, the champion, runner-up and alternate, with their grades and schools, are:

  • Northern Agency (no alternates listed):
    • 8th grade: Colby Benally of Atsa Biyaazh and Brandon Jones of Red Mesa.
    • 7th grade: Lisa Yazzie of Red Mesa and Marthy Hughes of Atsa Biyaazh.
    • 6th grade: Jeffery Belin and Penny Danzuka, both of Atsa Biyaazh.
    • 5th grade: Jamie Hot of Red Mesa and Maray Filfred of Aneth.
    • 4th grade: Brian Charley of Beclabito and Cody Gipson of Atsa Biyaazh.
  • Western Agency:
    • 8th grade: Kyle Trujillo of Tuba City Junior High School, Shena Williams of Leupp Schools, Inc., and Shanna Begay of Tonalea School.
    • 7th grade: Miriam Belin of Leupp Schools, Inc., Sandra Yazzie of Leupp Schools, Inc., and Brandon Crank of Kaibeto Boarding School.
    • 6th grade: Maryianna Huskon of Cameron Dzill Libei Elementary School, Rodney Scott of Moencopi Day School, and Danielle Signer of Leupp Schools, Inc.
    • 5th grade: Kori Maxx of Tuba City Eagles Nest Intermediate School, Desmond Sandoval of Kaibeto Boarding School and Francis Rock of Kayenta Intermediate School.
    • 4th grade: Benjamin Harvey of Tuba City Eagles Next Intermediate School, Alva Big of Chilchinbeto School and Jenile Sakave of Moencopi Day School.
  • Central (Chinle) Agency:
    • 8th grade: Tamara Chischilly of Chinle Junior High School, Ardy Begay of Chinle Boarding School and Kimberly Bob of Pinon Middle School.
    • 7th grade: Marvin Dohi of Chinle Junior High School, Deidra Sam of Lukachukai Community School and Sheree Sam of Lukachukai Community School.
    • 6th grade: Tara Stewart of Cottonwood Day School, Brandlyn Beall of Chinle Board School and Eva Stuart of Chinle Elementary School.
    • 5th grade: Dominick Bitsui of Many Farms Elementary School, Amanda Williams of Tsaile Elementary School and Calandra Claw of Cottonwood Day School.
    • 4th grade: Katie Ellen of Pinon Elementary School, Joseph Aruguete of Chinle Elementary School and Alicia Denetchee of Nazlini Community School.
  • Fort Defiance Agency:
    • 8th grade: Katie Leister of St. Michaels Elementary School, Stacey Cly (no school listed) and Junior Begay of Dilcon Community School.
    • 7th grade: Staci Brown of Greasewood Springs School, Jared Vadasy of St. Michaels Elementary School and Wynette Whitegoat of Fort Defiance Tse Ho Tso Middle School.
    • 6th grade: Pamela Platero of Naschitti Elementary School, Malecca Nelson of Fort Defiance Tse Ho Tso Middle School and Shanelle Curley of Tohatchi Ch'ooshgai Community School.
    • 5th grade: Kristin Pablo of Fort Defiance Tse Ho Tso Intermediate School, Arilynn Curley of Jeddito Elementary School and Cody Begaye of Fort Defiance Tse Ho Tso Intermediate School.
    • 4th grade: Deidra Brown of Crystal Board School, Shelby Billison of Window Rock Elementary School and Jessica Begay of St. Michael's Elementary School.
  • Eastern (Crownpoint) Agency:
    • 8th grade: Katrina Martin of Crownpoint Community School, Sally Waukazoo of Torreon Day School and Nicole Cayaditto of Ojo Encino Day School.
    • 7th grade: Brittany Toledo of Torreon Day School, Sherri Willeto of Torreon Day School and Orel Nathaniel of Lake Valley Navajo School.
    • 6th grade: Shawndean Lopez of Torreon Day School, Gabrielle Sandoval of Torreon Day School and Chelsea Willeto of Ojo Encino Day School.
    • 5th grade: Nicole Toledo of Torreon Day School, Tonya McNutt of Torreon Day School and Aaron Begay of Lake Lake Community School.
    • 4th grade: Makayla Toledo of Torreon Day School, Nicholas Toledo of Torreon Day School and Keshauna Barbone of Baca Community School.

Each year the Office of Diné Youth conducts qualifying rounds in each agency after schools pick their entrants. Then the ODY puts on the reservation championship in the tribal capital with the newspaper as the sponsor.

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