From ‘humble beginnings’ Central Agency continues spelling bee tradition

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Alvin Gee, program supervisor II at the Office of Diné Youth in Chinle, personally congratulates Dylan Luther of Pinon Elementary School after the youngster is declared first runner-up in the first and third grade competition.


Middle English words like “alive,” “active,” “branch” and “center” are fairly easy for Pinon Elementary student Charles Padolina to spell.

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Tristan Begay of Pinon Elementary School spells a word during the Navajo Times’ Central Agency Spelling Bee on Feb. 1 at Chinle High.

During the Navajo Times’ Central Agency Spelling Bee last Wednesday, Padolina spelled correctly, and prevailed, in just eight rounds against seven of his peers whose grade levels ranged from first-third. His championship word was “cloudy,” nabbing him a trophy, a pullover, and a bumblebee bag of goodies.

“I like spelling because it’s fun and easy,” Padolina said after his win. The third-grader has to wait until next year for his chance to participate in the coveted Scripps National Spelling Bee, one of the nation’s oldest and most iconic spelling bee competitions now in its 90th year.

Eleven schools participated in last year’s spelling bee in Pinon, Arizona. This year, however, only three schools participated: Pinon Accelerated Middle, Pinon Elementary, and Tsaile Public.

Payton Tacheene from Pinon Elementary will have a crack at the Times’ Navajo Nation Spelling Bee on March 16 in Shiprock. She was declared fourth grade champion after 11 rounds, in which she misspelled “croon” during round one, “muskrat” during round three, and “aspen” during round six. Her championship word was “fence.”

Jewelianna Lander from Tsaile Public was declared first runner-up. Tacheene and Lander both agreed that words bring them joy.

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

Categories: Community

About Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is the Western Agency Bureau reporter for the Navajo Times. She covers the western half of the Navajo Nation, including Page, Tuba City, Kaibeto, Cameron, Tonalea and Shonto. She can be reached at