To’hajiilee school wins 4 championships at Eastern bee

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
First and second place winners of this year’s Eastern Agency Spelling Bee after the competition in Crownpoint on Feb. 8. From left to right: Fifth-grader Mythius Domingo, Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School, 1st place; Fourth-grader Memphis Yazzie, To’hajiilee Community School, 1st place; Fourth-grader Allen Chavez, To’hajiilee Community School, 2nd place; Fifth-grader Kimmora Begay, Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School, 2nd place; Sixth-grader Annalysa Toledo, To’hajiilee Community School, 1st place; Sixth-grader Angelica Mexicano, To’hajiilee Community School, 2nd place; Eighth-grader Gianna Antonio, To’hajiilee Community School, 1st place; Seventh-grader Cadence Secatero, To’hajiilee Community School, 1st place; and eighth-grader Leshawnda Padilla, Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School, 2nd place.


“It was hard,” Mythius Domingo said about his win over classmate Kimmora Begay for the championship of the Navajo Nation/Navajo Times Eastern Agency Spelling Bee.

Index finger touching bell.

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
A judge for the Eastern Agency Spelling Bee rings a bell after a student misspelled a word Feb. 8 in Crownpoint.

The pair attends Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School in Bloomfield, New Mexico. The school’s team drove two hours to compete at St. Paul’s Parish Hall in Crownpoint. Then they went a grueling 62 rounds in the fifth-grade division last Thursday.

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School fifth-grader Kimmora Begay attempts to spell a word during the Eastern Agency Spelling Bee in Crownpoint on Feb. 8

“Some of the words were completely the opposite of the words that I knew,” the 11-year-old Mythias said. After an hour of back-and-forth spelling, he was named champion on his winning words of “spree” and “goblin.”

Fellow fifth-grader Kimmora got close to winning the title a couple of times but didn’t lock in a second word as the rules require. A student has to get two words in a row correct in order to be named champion.

As soon as Mythias finished spelling “goblin,” the small crowd burst into cheer. “I was, like, ‘I think I’m going to be the first one out,’” Mythius said. “They said they were going to mix up the eighth-grade words with all the other grade words and I was, like, ‘I don’t think I can spell some of them.’”

Mythius said what also made it difficult was when the pronouncer would mispronounce words. This happened several times during the spelling bee. Despite this challenge, he was still able to finish in first. This was the second time he and his classmate Kimmora went head to head.

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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