Three Havens advance to NN Spelling Bee


Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie

Kelly Haven stands in front of the microphone to spell at the Fort Defiance Agency spelling bee in Fort Defiance last Thursday. Haven has been the Navajo Nation’s top speller for the past two years and has competed at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Kelly Haven stood in front of the microphone and discreetly tapped her hands together with each word she spelled. “It helps a lot,” said Haven of her spelling tactic. “I’ve been doing this since the first grade.”

On Thursday, Haven won the 8th grade spelling bee for the Fort Defiance Agency, and will be heading to the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee here on March 14 in hopes to reclaim her spot to represent Navajo in Washington, D.C., at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. “I was so anxious and so nervous,” said Haven, after winning her last Fort Defiance Agency spelling bee (participants age out after 8th grade). “I’m very happy and I have no idea how else to describe that.

There’s a lot more pressure because I hope to get farther this year than any other year I’ve done this.” Obviously, tapping her fingers isn’t the only tactic that has catapulted Haven to becoming the area’s best speller. Its also taken family support and effort to get Haven and her siblings to where they are at. Haven’s younger sisters Hailey, a 6th grader, and Micah, a 5th grader, both placed second in their respective age categories.

They attend Tsehootsooi Intermediate Learning Center and are also heading to the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee. Dina Haven, their mother, said by choice her family doesn’t have a television, which means her children’s favorite pastime is reading.

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About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti


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