Mesa is home to the top two spellers this year in the region – and they are students in two different school districts.
Ivan Favela, a sixth grader at Patterson Elementary in Mesa Public Schools, grabbed first place in a regional spelling bee that pitted the top wordsmiths from MPS, Kyrene and Tempe Elementary districts as well as local private and charter schools.
Joining Ivan in the state bee will be Drew Passmonick, a seventh grader in Kyrene School District’s new Kyrene Digital Academy who placed second in the regional spell-off.
Among 19 participants in the regional contest, the top five slots were filled
out by Carena Todd of MPS’s Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, who placed third; fourth place finisher Lincoln Trembath, of Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary; and Hailey Manter of St. Timothy Catholic School.
Ivan correctly spelled 32 out of the 35 words on the test. A tiebreaker test was needed to break a three-way tie for second place.
Ivan and Drew will join the top spellers from other regions next month to vie for a chance to represent Arizona in the national Scripps Spelling Bee.
And unlike last year – and unlike the Arizona bees – the finale of the vaunted national contest will be an in-person event.
The district-level, regional and state bees have been and will be conducted through online tests.
Then, the state winners will compete in another online contest to reduce the field of contestants to 10-12.
Those finalists will gather in Orlando, Florida, on July 8 to compete at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for nationally televised event on ESPN2.
The E.E. Scripps Company said, “As the world continues to adapt to an ongoing pandemic, Scripps is committed to reimagining the beloved competition in a way that safely allows our exceptional spellers to continue this iconic tradition on the national stage.”
“The decision to limit the in-person portion of the competition to no more than 12 spellers was made in consideration of the health and safety of participants, their families and everyone involved in the event’s production as the country continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.