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Fri, July 30

Kaska spells way<br>to 2nd straight win

GCNP — Sauba Kaska was hungry for a second straight Grand Canyon School Spelling Bee title last week, evidenced by his two final words — culinary and appetite.

Kaska outdueled fellow eighth-grader Nikki Harvey to take first place in the Jan. 16 event. Harvey went out on culinary and after Kaska spelling it correctly, he won on appetite.

Nikki Harvey, from left, Christopher Shirley and Sauba Kaska were the top three finishers in last week's annual Grand Canyon Spelling Bee.

Kaska now advances to the Coconino County Spelling Bee to be held Feb. 17 at Flagstaff High School. Last year, competing as a seventh-grader, Kaska advanced through the first four rounds.

The Grand Canyon Parent-Teacher Association awarded Kaska a $20 first-place prize for his showing. Harvey took home $15 for second and third-place finisher Christopher Shirley, a fourth-grader, won $10.

In all, 14 students in grades 2-8 competed in the spelling bee. Each of those classes sent two representatives to the event. National Park Service officer Ronnie Gibson, Grand Canyon School Board member Tom Pittenger and Grand Canyon School principal Ray Vernon served as judges. Librarian Nancy Green served as emcee and the PTA's Judi Beckerleg was on hand to provide word definitions. The 14 contestants began the bee by drawing numbers out of a hat to determine the order of competition.

Besides Kaska, Harvey and Shirley, other finalists included second-graders Miriam Lopez and Madison Berry, third-graders Jacob Van Hemelryck and Tiffany Kerr, fourth-grader Bryce Johnson, fifth-graders Kierston Chavez and Eric Gerber, sixth-graders Emma Keske and Garrison Yellowman, and seventh-graders Stephanie Rivers and Rachel Vanwinkle.

After going through a practice round to work out nervous energy and clarify all the rules, the event began. More than half of the field exited the bee in the first round. Five of the 14 competitors spelled their words correctly to advance. In round two, four of the five safely advanced and those same four then made it through the third round.

By the end of the fourth round, the top three finishers remained. The judges did review an audiotape briefly on Kaska's spelling of hedgehog. Kaska spelled the word quickly and the judges checked for clarification before advancing him.

In round five, Kaska spelled January, Shirley spelled Wednesday and Harvey spelled mentor.

Two of the three advanced out of round six — Kaska spelling urgent and Harvey spelling clarity. And round seven was also successful for the final two with Kaska spelling reproach and Harvey spelling exclamation.

Then, in round eight, after Kaska spelled delicious. Harvey followed with culinary and after asking for use in a sentence, she missed. Kaska spelled culinary and appetite for the win.

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