PUHI — Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School student Drezdin Taylor did not mind that Emma Malderelli won the Hawai‘i State Spelling Bee championship.
Thursday, Drezdin, along with his parents Steve and Genevieve Taylor, received his state spelling bee runner-up package that included a trophy and accompanying package of premiums, including a gift card from Jamba Juice, from Kapa‘a-Kaua‘i-Waimea Complex Area District Educational Specialist Sean Doi.
“He came so close to qualifying for the Scripps National Spelling Bee that will be held May 30 to June 3 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland,” Doi said. “We are so proud of how you did.”
Malderelli, a seventh grade student at La Pietra-Hawai‘i School for Girls, earned the state championshp at the event held March 11 against 16 district champions, including Drezdin and Zoe Gray, a sixth grade student from St. Theresa School.
Jennifer Yang, this year’s State Spelling Bee coordinator, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that 40 schools from across the state participated in this year’s bee. That number was more than the 28 schools that were represented in 2021, but still fewer than half of the normal participants from the pre-pandemic years.
“This is exactly where I want to be,” Drezdin said while accepting his runner-up trophy. “I don’t need to study any more lists.”
Steve Taylor, Drezdin’s father, said the CKMS sixth grader worked hard to prepare for the state spelling bee after taking the Kaua‘i District Spelling Bee, Feb. 4 after breezing through “sedge,” and relegating Gray to the runner-up position following a marathon 18 rounds of spelling at the CKMS cafeteria.
“I was a little nervous,” Drezdin said. “Four whole weeks. I studied one list a day. That was a lot of time.”
Steve said he was with Drezdin during the online state spelling bee through a testing platform developed by the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and the winner being determined by the highest score.
“The good thing about online was the visual part,” Steve said. “You could see what was being spelled, and that helped. There was one word where he spelled it wrong, redid it correctly, and corrected that to come out incorrect.”
According to the Hawai‘i Department of Education, the Hawai‘i State Spelling Bee was powered by Kaya’s Store, celebrating 75 years in Punalu‘u, and other community sponsors that will provide the state champion and a parent/guardian airfare, lodging at the Gaylord National Resort, ground transportation, and a per diem during this trip where they will have an opportunity to meet with winners from around the nation and take tours of sites around Washington, D.C.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.
Source: The Garden Island