‘Try to beat Kelly’

Sisters take first, second place at Navajo Nation bee

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Sisters Hailey, left, and Kelly Haven placed second and first, respectively, in the Navajo Times Navajo Nation Spelling Bee.


By Round 10 of the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee, there were only two spellers left. For the next eight rounds, the last two spellers would go head-to-head — just like they did at home for the last year preparing for this bee.

The last two spellers are sisters, Hailey, 11, and Kelly Haven, 12, from Tsehootsooi Intermediate Learning Center in Window Rock.

“My mom had us study for two hours a day,” Hailey, a fifth-grader at TILC, said. “Me and Kelly tested each other.” During Round 18, Hailey misspelled “panzer,” which is a German armored vehicle, according to the Oxford Dictionary. That paved the way for Kelly to correctly spell “anchovy” and “salami,” thereby naming her the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee champion for the second year in a row — along with giving her a great idea for a pizza.

Kelly will now represent the Navajo Nation at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. As the primary sponsor of the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee, the Navajo Times covers all travel expenses for the Navajo champion speller to compete in the national spelling bee. “It feels awesome!” Kelly said. “It feels really great! I really love this feeling.”

This will be Kelly’s second year at the national bee, which she feels more prepared for this time around. “Last year, I didn’t actually do so well,” she said. “So, this year I’m going to push myself to do better. I think I’m going to do better than last year.”

At the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee, Kelly misspelled her first word, spessartine, a type of aluminum garnet.

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Categories: People

About Author

Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association's 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico - Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah