Kyrene Digital Academy seventh grader Drew Passmonick

Kyrene Digital Academy seventh grader Drew Passmonick is the district’s 2021 spelling champ.

While organizers of the Scripps 2021 National Spelling Bee are still hoping to hold their iconic event in person, the road for hopefuls in Arizona is virtual.

And last month, Kyrene School District fielded its contestants, led by Drew Passmonick, a seventh grader in the district’s new Kyrene Digital Academy.

Scripps says on its website that it is “exploring a number of scenarios to administer the national competition while following social distancing and group assembly guidelines.”

 The bee is tentatively scheduled June 1-3 in National Harbor, Maryland, though organizers said they will have more to say this month.

While the district-level bees have been spectator affairs in the past, the pandemic is forcing them to compete with an online test developed by the national organization.

Still, the 27 Kyrene finalists were “eager to put their knowledge to the test and out-spell their peers,” district spokeswoman Erin Helm said.

The youngsters from Kyrene’s middle school and K-8 campuses had 24 hours to complete the online test, tackling words such as “kaleidoscope,” “quiescence” and “harrumph.” 

Drew emerged as Kyrene District Bee Champion. In second place was Lincoln Trembath, a fifth grader at Kyrene de los Lagos.

Tying for third place were Kyrene de los Cerritos fifth grader Conner Trynosky and Christopher Humanski, also a fifth grade student and also a student in the district’s Digital Academy.

All four students will advance to the virtual regional bee as they march toward the Arizona State Spelling Bee.

Kyrene will host this year’s regional bee Feb. 20.

And while the competition will continue playing out online, Helm added, “Kyrene hopes to welcome back families for an in-person event next year.”

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