Top Spellers to Compete in Arizona State Spelling Bee on March 18, 2023 - AZEdNews
Sections    Friday March 24th, 2023

Top Spellers to Compete in Arizona State Spelling Bee on March 18, 2023

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  • Melissa Kaszuba   |   Arizona Educational Foundation & Urias Communications


Yes, they are just like any other kid. They like to play video games, hang out with friends, play musical instruments, and participate in sports. However, when they are not doing those things, the state’s top 27 spellers – ranging from grades 3 through 8 – are dedicating time to studying and practicing for the upcoming 2023 Arizona State Spelling Bee. While Spelling Bees are a great American pastime, they are also tremendous tools for building written and verbal literacy skills. Spelling Bees begin at the classroom level and progress to grade level competitions, schoolwide, and then district Bees, with the final qualifier being a county or regional Bee. From county and regional Bees, 27 students emerge as finalists and move on to compete at the Arizona State Spelling Bee. As the official state coordinator of the Arizona Spelling Bee, Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF®) staff provides technical support and enrollment assistance to thousands of teachers throughout Arizona each year; additionally, AEF works with each coordinator leading district, county, and regional Bees statewide. AEF is also the main organizer of the Arizona State Bee, which is the final competition each year to determine who will represent Arizona in the Scripps National Bee.


• Shahasrad Balaji, 4th Grade, Age 9, Basis Peoria Primary, Basis Charter Schools, Maricopa
County Region 4
• Aanandi Dutta, 4th Grade, Age 9, Kyrene de los Cerritos, Kyrene School District, Maricopa
County, Region 1
• Anthony Estrella, 7th Grade, Age 12, Legacy Traditional School, Legacy Traditional School,
Maricopa County Region 5
• Annabelle Gamez, 8th Grade, Age 13, Safford Middle School, Safford Unified District,
Graham County
• Catalina Garcia, 7th Grade, Age 12, Fairbanks Middle School, Morenci Unified School
District, Greenlee County
• Isabell Gavin, 8th Grade, Age 13, Veritas Christian Community School, Independent Charter
School, Cochise County
• Zane Gibbs, 8th Grade, Age 13, Blue Ridge Junior High School, Blue Ridge Unified School
District, Navajo County
• Ethan Greenwood, 8th Grade, Age 13, Coyote Hills Elementary School, Peoria Unified School
District, Maricopa County Region 4
• Calliope Hill, 6th Grade, Age 11, Montessori School of Flagstaff, American Montessori
Society, Coconino County
• Kimora Holloway, 7th Grade, Age 13, Maricopa Virtual Academy, Maricopa Unified School
District, Pinal County
• Alrick James, 4th Grade, Age 9, Estrella Foothills Global Academy, Laveen School District,
Maricopa County Region 3
• Asiya Kabir, 6th Grade, Age 11, Arizona Cultural Academy, Independent Charter School,
Maricopa County Region 1
• Ishana Karthik, 5th Grade, Age 10, Adam’s Traditional Academy, A Choice Academies
School, Maricopa County Region 2
• Ethan Knudson, 7th Grade, Age 13, Masada Charter School, Independent Charter School,
Mohave County
• Sai Manvik Malreddy, 8th Grade, Age 13, Explorer Middle School, Paradise Valley Unified
School District, Maricopa County Region 2
• Nathan Merrill, 8th Grade, Age 13, Legacy Traditional School – Northwest Tucson, Legacy
Traditional School District, Pima County
• Opal Mishra, 6th Grade, Age 12, Basha Accelerated Middle School, Chandler Unified School
District, Maricopa County Region 6
• Marcelina Olivarez, 5th Grade, Age 10, Copper Rim Elementary, Globe Unified School
District, Gila County
• Karen Opoku-Appoh, 8th Grade, Age 13, Marana Middle School, Marana Unified School
District, Pima County
• Regina Rascon, 7th Grade, Age 11, Bogle Junior High School, Chandler Unified School
District, Maricopa County Region 6
• Daniel Renteria, 8th Grade, Age 14, Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic School, Diocese of
Tuscon, Yuma County
• Jacob Schliekelman, 3rd Grade, Age 8, Erhenberg Elementary, Quartzite Elementary School
District, La Paz County
• Yug Sonawane, 8th Grade, Age 12, Phoenix Country Day School, Independent Charter
School, Maricopa County Region 3
• Khalista Talingdan, 8th Grade, Age 13, Verrado Middle School, Litchfield Elementary School
District, Maricopa County Region 5
• Alan Tryon, 8th Grade, Age 13, St. Johns Middle School, St. Johns Unified School District,
Apache County
• Miguel Valenzuela, 7th Grade, Age 12, Wade Carpenter Middle School, Nogales Unified
School District, Santa Cruz County
• Shaelyn Van Doren, 7th Grade, Age 11, Franklin Phonetic School, Independent Charter
School, Yavapai County

This year AEF is the recipient of a $25,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities to support the Arizona
State Spelling Bee. Arizona has one of the largest Spelling Bee participation rates in the nation, with
484,122 students competing this year from public, private, parochial and homeschools statewide.
For the two students who place first and second place in the State Spelling Bee, AEF supports travel
for the students and their chaperones to represent Arizona as official champions in the Scripps
National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland.
“We are proud to support The Arizona State Spelling Bee, hosted by the Arizona Educational Foundation,”
said Michael Golding, Thunderbirds Charities President. “This program provides another opportunity for
students to improve upon their literacy skills in a fun and exciting way. We look forward to this event each
year and are proud of the student’s hard work and dedication.
“Having Thunderbirds Charities serve as the presenting sponsor of the Arizona Spelling Bee is incredible,”
says Kim Graham, AEF Executive Director. “They do so much to support education in Maricopa and Pinal
counties and we are truly honored that they have chosen to support this vital academic opportunity for
The Arizona State Spelling is scheduled for Saturday, March 18th, at the Madison Center for
the Arts in Phoenix, located at 5601 N 16th St. in Phoenix. The event is free and open to the
public beginning at 10:30am, with the official Spelling Bee start time at 10:45am. Leading up
to the State Bee, AEF features each of the 27 student finalists on its social media channels. A
recorded copy of the spelling bee will be uploaded to the Arizona Educational Foundation’s
YouTube channel following the bee. The 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals will be
broadcast live on ION the evening of Thursday, June 1, 2023.