Sonoma County Office of Education

Student Events

2004 State Elementary Spelling Championship

Sixty of the state’s top elementary school spellers met in Northern California on Saturday, May 15 to compete for the California State Elementary Spelling Championship. These students, representing 32 California counties, had already won school, region, and county spelling bees. Each county’s first and second place spellers were eligible to compete for the championship title in this state event coordinated by the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE). Three fourth-graders, 22 fifth-graders, and 35 sixth-graders participated. The competition was held on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park.

Dr. Carl Wong, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools, welcomed participants and guests to the event, then showed a video greeting from Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. The spellers were introduced from different locations at the State Capitol by event coordinator Connie Anderson and Anne Harris-Gebb, a teacher from Jefferson School in Cloverdale who serves as “Spell Master” for the competition.

All spellers received certificates of participation from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. Students who placed first through sixth also received a certificate from the Governor congratulating them on their placement in the competition.

The state spelling competition was completed in 10 rounds. Tehama County’s Maheen Rana, a fifth-grader from Bidwell Elementary School, won the top prize by correctly spelling arriviste, then impressionable. She received a trophy and a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond. ABC7 News anchor Eric Thomas presented Maheen with her trophy.

Nevada County’s Claire Sullivan, a sixth-grader from Lyman Gilmore School, earned the second place trophy and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond. ABC7 News reporter Debora Villalon presented Claire’s trophy.

Sixth-grader Rahul Khurana, from Contra Costa County’s BASIS Charter School, was awarded the third-place trophy and a $250 U.S. Savings Bond. Dr. Don Russell, director of academic support at the Sonoma County Office of Education, presented Rahul with his trophy.

Fourth- through sixth-place winners each received a trophy and $100 U.S. Savings Bond. Jake Doonan, a sixth-grader from Home Street School in Inyo County, placed fourth; Samantha Ching, a fifth-grader from St. Dominic’s School in Solano County, placed fifth; and sixth-grader Cassandra Burgenbauch, from Mammoth Middle School in Mono County, earned sixth place.

Serving in the important capacity of spelling bee judges were: Teresa Barrett (lead judge), Petaluma City Planning Commission; Christina DuPont, Yulupa School teacher; Tim Gill, staff development coordinator at SCOE; Dr. Don Russell, academic support director at SCOE; Eric Thomas, ABC7 News anchor; and Debora Villalon, ABC7 News reporter. Lauren Fuller and Nancy Tamagni greeted and escorted the spellers.