Cerritos student to compete for state spelling crown

Aanani Dutta, seen here with her father Uttaran Dutta of Ahwatukee, is basking in the glow of being the regional spelling bee winner who now will vie to represent Arizona in the famed Scripps National Spelling Bee for the national crown. (Kyrene School District)

A fourth grader at Kyrene de los Cerritos Leadership Academy will be boning up on the dictionary as she prepares for the next round in a march to the national spelling crown.

Aanani Dutta won the Maricopa County Region 1 Spelling Bee Feb. 11 in back-to-back verbal achievements during the 10-round contest.

First, she was the only speller in the ninth round to correctly spell “divestiture” and then triumphed again in the final round by nailing the spelling of “vexatious.”

Aanandi bested a group of 33 spellers from Kyrene School District, Mesa Public Schools, Tempe Elementary School District and private, charter and homeschool organizations.

She will now compete March 18 at Madison Center for the Arts for a chance to be one of two students who will represent the state in the national bee, May 30-June 1 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

First held in 1925, the national bee is framed around 450 words selected from the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Some 200 spelling champs will vie for the national title, which carries a $2,500 cash prize, a reference library and bragging rights for the year.

Over the years, the winning contestants have had to tackle some brain-busting words such as “soubrette” (1953), “chiaroscurist” (1998), “autochthonous” (2004) and “insouciant (1951), according to records of the bee.

While Aanandi will be going on to a new round next month, another Kyrene student – Paige Erickson, an 8th grader at Kyrene Middle School – was also among the top 10 regional spellers.

Dutta will move on to the Arizona State Spelling Bee on March 18 at the Madison Center for the Arts. The top two spellers in that competition will qualify for the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Kyrene congratulates all spellers and wishes Dutta and other regional Bee winners G-O-O-D L-U-C-K!

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