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Nina Bhatia wins Scottsdale Unified School District Spelling Bee with focus now on Region II title

photo of Nina Bhatia
Nina Bhatia, eighth grade, 2024 SUSD Spelling Bee Champion (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Nina Bhatia attends Cocopah Middle School at Scottsdale Unified
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Twenty-four spellers. Thirteen rounds. Eighty-eight words.

It was 13-year-old Nina Bhatia who emerged as the champion of the Jan. 19 Scottsdale Unified School District Spelling Bee, spelling the word “indemnity” correctly.

Among the words she also had to spell were “megaron,” “coccidiosis” and “innards.” How did the Cocopah Middle School eighth grade student prepare for the 2024 Bee?

“For the easier words, I usually just skimmed over them and made sure I practiced them,” Nina said following her victory. “For the harder words, though, we had to kind of associate with the picture and also definitions. It took a really long time for the hard words.”

Nina credits her mother with helping her study and shared she doesn’t plan to change her approach for the Region II Spelling Bee that SUSD will host at Coronado High School on Feb. 9. There, she will be joined by the district bee’s five runners-up:

  • Gabriel Roxas, fifth grade, Hohokam Elementary School
  • Dhruv Bansal, sixth grade, Desert Canyon Middle School
  • Raquel Charlesworth, eighth grade, Mountainside Middle School
  • Jak Boudi, fifth grade, Hopi Elementary School
  • Promise Elhassan, fourth grade, Yavapai Elementary School


Bee winners from the Cave Creek, Deer Valley and Paradise Valley Unified School districts, as well as northeast Valley charter, private and homeschools, will also participate in the Region II Bee.

The regional bee winner will head to the March 16 Arizona Spelling Bee at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. The state bee champion will be Arizona’s representative in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held May 26 – June 1 in National Harbor, Maryland.

As for Nina, she reads more nonfiction than fiction these days. Her favorite fiction author is J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her favorite Harry Potter character? Gryffindor’s Hermione Granger, but, she added, “I’m a Slytherin.”

A day earlier, SUSD conducted its second middle school Spanish Spelling Bee. Eighth graders swept the top three spots.


Echo Canyon School’s Adrián Fernando Alvarado Padilla out-spelled 16 other students, winning with the word “embarazoso.”

Cocopah Middle School’s Matias Lagos Pucllas finished in second place; Ingleside Middle School’s Angel Gomez finished third.

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