Fort Defiance bee new for the little ones

By Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Timesu

WINDOW ROCK, Feb. 23, 2012

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Words were all the rage at Fort Defiance Agency Spelling Bee held Feb. 16 at the Navajo Nation Museum.

Students were bused from across the agency to participate in the bee.

Unlike other agencies, this spelling bee included two primary grades and the different grade-level competitions were held simultaneously in various rooms.

Starting the second-grade competition was Whitney James from Ganado Primary School.

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James smiled as she walked to the microphone stand, which was taller than her, and correctly spelled "after."

She was one of 19 second-graders to receive words such as "brick," "kitten," "another," "brother" and "fable."

James made it to Round 9 with four other students but as she was spelling "enjoy" she stopped, then started again. She was disqualified because she did not repeat the word before restarting.

By Round 10, only Joshua Begay from Hilltop Christian School, Davan Evans from Ganado Primary, and Jalen Sam from Dilcon Community School were left.

Begay won with "pencil," followed by Evans and then Sam.

Tina Tommy, the Fort Defiance Agency spelling bee coordinator, said the agency includes second and third grades in the agency bee so the little ones can gain experience for the time when they can participate in the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee, which starts with fourth grade.

Tommy mentioned the winning word in the third-grade competition was "figure" and Natalie Bluehorse from Window Rock Elementary correctly spelled it.

Finishing in second place was Michael Billy from Greasewood Springs Community School and third place went to Aaron Lewis from Hilltop Christian.




The sixth-grade competition went on for 47 rounds, the longest competition of the day.

By Round 34, Ronnie Ramone from Ganado Intermediate School and Autumn Jim from St. Michael Indian School were locked in a spell-off. It went round after round until Ramone won with "powwow."

As the seventh- and eighth-grade competitions began, 21 students began the fifth-grade contest.

The first round saw the contestant field narrowed to two students.

JB Miguel A. Fortuno from Tséhootsooí Elementary School and Nizhoni Garcia from Window Rock Elementary School went head to head in six rounds.

Then Fortuno correctly spelled "miso" followed by "gunnysack."

After the bee ended, third-grader Nizhoni George from Ganado Primary stood in the museum lobby, soaking in the experience.

"I like spelling," George said with a big smile.

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