Congratulations to the 2020 Riverside County Spelling Bee Finalists!

Due to COVID-19, the final round of the Riverside County Spelling Bee, presented by The Press-Enterprise, as well as the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals were unable to be held. While the 26 finalists (with 23 alternates) were unable to participate in the county or national bee this year, join us in celebrating their many spelling bee and academic accomplishments!

Alvord Unified School District

Winner
Razl Pangandoyon

Orrenmaa Elementary School
Grade: 5
Autobiographical Sketch:
Hello, my name is Razl. My hobbies are reading or making my own stories. I have a dog named “shopkin”. My favorite subjects are math, history and geography. Someday I want to be an IT or an engineer. My reason for entering the spelling bee is I wanted to feel what it was like to be in a competition. I practiced with my parents by watching videos and practicing the lists that were given to us.

Alternate
Irene Gutierrez

McAuliffe Elementary School
Grade: 5
Autobiographical Sketch:
I like to play chess, read and do cheerleading. I have 5 pet fish, 2 pet canaries, 1 pet dog and 1 pet cat. My favorite subject is language arts. I would like to be a judge – Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to be more specific. I wanted to be in the Bee because I really would like to achieve many more things related to academics. I will read over the words and then my mother will read the words to me, like in a real Bee.

Banning Unified School District

Winner
Eric Vazquez

Nicolet Middle School
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My favorite show is Sponge Bob.  I have one dog named Charlie.  My favorite subject is math.  My future ambition is to become a veterinarian.

Alternate
Jonathan Wilson

Cabazon Elementary School
Grade:
Autobiographical Sketch:

Beaumont Unified School District

Winner
Eden Vazquez

Sundance Elementary School
Grade: 5
Autobiographical Sketch:
I’m a fifth grade student at Sundance Elementary in Beaumont.  When I’m not in school, I enjoy reading books.  The bigger the better!  My favorite genre is sci-fi/fantasy.  I also love to draw and paint while listening to the band Queen on my record player.  In the future, my dream is to be an author and illustrator.  For now, I will keep learning as much as I can in school with my favorite subject being Language Arts.  I’m happy to have made it this far by trying my best.

Alternate
Matthew Sontoski

Three Rings Ranch Elementary School
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Matthew Sontoski.  I entered the Spelling Bee because I enjoy being at competitive events and competitions.  I studied on a website called learnthat.org.  I have a cat and a dog called Cali and Ruby.  Some of my hobbies are reading and video games.  My favorite subject is Math and I want to be an electrical engineer when I grow up.

Chammakilawish Pechanga School

Winner
Gabe Romig

Pechanga School
Grade:  4Autobiographical Sketch:

My hobbies are playing video games and reading books.  I have a bearded dragon names Josh.  My favorite subject is science.  When I grow up I want to be a computer engineer.  I entered the spelling bee because I thought it would be fun.  I studied by practicing with my mom.

Santa Rosa Academy Charter

Winner
Ben Josh Del Rio

Santa Rose Academy
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
I play piano, read books and play video games.  My favorite subject is history.  I am entering the bee to improve my vocabulary skills.

Alternate
Divyimsu Nallamothu

Santa Rose Academy
Grade: 
Autobiographical Sketch:

Coachella Valley Unified School District

Winner
Demetrious Coleman

Bobby Duke Middle School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Demetrious Level Coleman.  Some of my hobbies include reading, playing sports and playing video games.  My favorite subjects in school are mathematics, science and social studies.  My choices for a future career include becoming a paleontologist and zoologist or a professional basketball player.  My reason for entering the spelling bee was to simply have fun and improve my spelling at the same time.  I studied by having someone say a word and then I would spell it.

Alternate
Evelyn Cabrera

Palm View Elementary School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Evelyn Cabrera and one of my future ambitions is to become a teacher because it is my dream career.  I currently have two pets.  One is a girl and the other is a boy.  The reason I entered the spelling bee was because in 4th grade I tried out and failed; so I decided to try again this year and try to win.  The way I studied was with my sister’s help.

Corona-Norco Unified School District

Winner
Paulina Torres

Norco Intermediate
Grade: 7
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Paulina Torres and I am a student at Norco Intermediate.  Hobbies I enjoy are spending time with my family, watching movies, listening to music, dancing and reading.  Language Arts has always been my favorite subject, and, as a result, when I am older, I hope to be some kind of writer.  A constant need to better myself in every aspect is what I think led me to participate in the spelling bee, both this year and last.  Mainly, I studied for the spelling bee by reading books and the word list given to me.  I am glad to have another opportunity to represent my school at the spelling bee.

Alternate
Melissa Viveros

Citrus Hills Intermediate
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
Hello, I consider myself quite boring and dull for my age; but like any other person, I do enjoy certain activities, such as reading, running and writing.  I like school itself, but if I had to choose one subject from all my 7 classes, it would probably be math.  Unfortunately, I have no pets; but many ambitions.  I aspire to one day, be a professional and respected engineer.  I decided to participate in the spelling bee this year because I believe that it is important to expand our vocabulary and knowledge – so what better way to accomplish this is there than to enter a spelling bee.

Desert Sands Unified School District

Winner
Dylan Le

George Washington Charter
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Dylan. I am 10 years old and live with my mom, dad, and older sister. In my spare time, I like to read. My favorite subjects are Math and Science. I have 3 pet fish which I have had for over a year. My parents helped me study for the spelling bee.

Alternate
Benjamin Ho

La Quinta Middle School
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Benjamin Ho, and I am 13 years old. My hobbies are playing basketball, playing video games, and watching cartoons. My favorite subjects are Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies. My future ambitions are to graduate college and start my career in the medical field.

Hemet Unified School District

Winner
Yudhister Kumar

Western Center Academy
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Yudhester Kumar.  I am 14 and in the 8th grade.  I like math, music, as I play the piano.  I also like playing chess.  I entered the Bee because this is the last year for me compete.

Alternate
Mason Carey

Darthmouth Middle School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
Hi, I’m Mason Carey.  I like Country Music and Nala.  My favorite school subject is science.  I am the runner up for Hemet district.  I will not be participating to the Bee.

Highland Academy Charter School

Alternate
Mark Huynh

Highland Academy Charter School
Grade: 7
Autobiographical Sketch:
Mark is currently in 7th grade at Highland Academy Charter School.  Mark plays for HALS Boys Basketball team.  In his free time, you can find him on his computer playing games.

Inspire Charter Schools

Winner
Alecxander Schouten

Mission Vista Academy
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
I like the color green.  I want to do gaming design when I grow up.  I like to cook with my mom and play games with my dad.  I like to pester my brothers and sister.  I like to spell.  It is fun.

Alternate
Ashwin Karthik

Mission Vista Academy
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My favorite hobbies are making legos, reading books and watching TV.  My favorite subjects include math, science, social studies and L.A.  I would like to be an inventor, pilot and Anesthesiologist and a tutor.  I entered Bee to get a feeling of spelling words correctly and to get trophies and medals (prizes).  I write new words and learn the meaning and practice with my mom.

Lake Elsinore Unified School District

Winner
Carson Grey

Elsinore Middle School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch
I love all sports, especially baseball and basketball.  The Dodgers are my favorite and I named my dog Bell after Cody Bellinger.  I play the saxophone in bank and am a start scout or roy scout.  I also have a black belt in taequondo.  My favorite subject is language arts and when I grow up I want to be a policeman like my dad.

Alternate
Charlize Jones

Elsinore Middle School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Charlize Jones.  I am a 13 year old seventh grade honor student at Elsinore Middle School with a passion for learning and a drive to achieve excellence.  I am extremely funny, diligent, compassionate and a naturally gifted singer and actress.  My favorite subjects in school are English and Arts.  The reasons I entered the Spelling Bee are because I’ve always been fascinated with words and it is an honor to represent my school.  My goals in life are to be a role model to my siblings and to all the children around the world.

Menifee Union School District

Winner
Josh Delavega-Bell

Bell Mountain Middle School
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Josh Delavega. I don’t have any hobbies at the moment, but I used to do Taekwondo and basketball. I have two dogs named Kyle and Nymeria. My favorite subject is PE and History in school. A future ambition I have is to go to college and I’m not sure what job I want for now but I’m leaning towards to become a surgeon someday. I entered the bee because it was challenging and I like challenging myself. How I studied was I read the words and tried to memorize them. But, I also had my mom and friends that helped and tested me too.

Alternate
Michael Flori

Harvest Hill STEAM Academy
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
My hobbies include video games, soccer, karate, coding, drawing and exploring. My animals are four dogs and two cats: Lulu, Stewie, Bebes, Felicia. My cats are Cujo and Snickers. My favorite is elective. I intend to be a S.R.T./Special Recruit Team/SWAT Special Weapons and Tactics. I entered to challenge myself to see what my capabilities are.

Moreno Valley Unified School District

Winner
Swetha Jayasinghe

Palm Middle School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
Hello, my name is Swetha.  My hobbies are baking and cooking.  I have one dog and she’s a golden retriever and german shepherd mix.  My future ambitiions are to become a neurosurgeon and to maybe change the world.  My reason for entering the Bee was to just give myself some excitement.  I really like competing.

Alternate
Rahil Tahir

Mountain View Middle School
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Rahil Tahir and my hobbies consist of any sort of art, whether it be performing or regular, swimming, linguistics, criminology, psychology, obstretrics and medicines.  I have a parrot and am interested in any/all subjects.  My future ambitions are to be stress-free, happy and to love what I do.  My reasons for entering the Bee was because I won in Kindergarten and made my mother proud; therefore, I wanted to do so, at least, one more time.  Lastly, I studied my crossing off what I already knew and studying what I didn’t.

Murrieta Valley Unified School District

Winner
Thomas Hao

Thompson Middle School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Thomas Hao and I am from Thompson Middle School.  I am in sixth grade and I like to make paper models.  I have a pet dog named Toto.  My favorite subject is math, I want to become a doctor, and I study 60 minutes a day.  My family helped me study by testing me on words after I review them.

Alternate
Tyler Muenzer

Shivela Middle School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Tyler Muenzer, and I am proud to represent Murrieta Valley School District as an alternate in this year’s spelling bee. I enjoyed the challenge of preparing for the bee, and competing against such intelligent students. To prepare, I used the Merriam-Webster online dictionary to hear the correct pronunciation of the words from the study packets, then had my parents quiz me on the spelling. In school my favorite subjects are Math and Robotics. In my free time I also enjoy Boy Scouts, reading, swimming, playing guitar and Minecraft. When I get older, I hope to be a children’s author or a video game designer. Good luck to all the Spelling Bee participants.

Nuview Union School District

Winner
Talia Eller

Mountain Shadows Middle School
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
I have an Iguana named Patrick. I like to paint, play sports, ride dirt bikes, and I didn’t study at all!

Alternate
Markie Purcel

Mountain Shadows Middle School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
I would like to become a space x mechanical engineer. I entered the spelling bee because I’ve never been to a spelling bee. I just read the words multiple times.

Palm Springs Unified School District

Winner
Dominic Carrillo

Cielo Vista Charter
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
I like to listen to a lot of music. My favorite band is Nivana. I currently have four pets. All of which are dogs. I enjoy U.S. History the most out of all my classes. I plan to be a musician. I enjoy music and would someday love to create some of my own. I chose to enter the spelling bee because I was told that I only live once.

Alternate
Luke Jin

Cielo Vista Charter
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
I’ll do my best, even as an alternate. I have a nice dog that I like, I also enjoy video games, and I hope to speak dog language some day. I wish everyone good luck.

Palo Verde Unified School District

Winner
Jenna Taliaferro

Ruth Brown Elementary School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Jenna Taliaferro.  I am the 12 year old daughter of Seanea Eddy and the late Thomas Taliaferro.  My favorite hobby is dancing.  I’ve had 12 years of instruction.  I also cheer and have been active in 4-H for 7 years.  I have 2 dogs and a cat.  My favorite school subject is math.  The goal I have for myself is to have a career that makes me happy and my parents proud.  Spelling is a good distraction for me.  My mom and step brothers have helped me.  I’m excited to be here.

Alternate
Chazz Fulkerson

Ruth Brown Elementary School
Grade 5
Autobiographical Sketch:
I have one dog.  I enjoy science.  I hope to become a forensic scientist.  I entered the spelling bee to find out how far I could get.  I did not study.

Perris Union High School District

Winner
Jaiheim Grant

California Military Institute
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Jaiheim Grant.  I have a pet fish, two sisters and my parents. I am a part time YouTuber and just made Honor Roll. My hobbies are to try and fix technology. I succeed most of the time too. I am excited to have won at my school. It’s a chance to redeem myself.

Alternate
Valerie Franco

California Military Institute
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
Some of my hobbies are reading and playing volleyball. I have no pets as of right now. My favorite subjects are AVID and language arts. When I grow up, I want to become a lawyer. I wanted to enter the Spelling Bee to make my parents proud and I studied by typing all the words.

Riverside Unified School District

Winner
Jasir Baig

Amelia Earhart Middle School
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
Hello, my name is Jasir Baig.  I attend Amelia Earhart Middle School.  I am currently in the 8th grade.  I was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Riverside, CA.  I love to play sports and be with friends.  I work hard in school in order to accomplish my goal of going to a good college.  I hope to not only be successful in my career but to be successful in person.

Alternate
Emily Woo

Amelia Earhart Middle School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
My hobbies include playing chess and reading.  I have one dog and my favorite subject is math.  I would like to become a computer hardware engineer in the future.  I entered the spelling bee because it seems to be a good experience to have and if I didn’t sign up, my mom would make me.  I had a friend read a word for me to spell in order to help me study.  I thought this was very fun.

Romoland School District

Winner
Ivan Don-Willies

Mesa View Elementary School
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Ivan Don-Willies.  I was born in London, UK.  I was 8 months old when my family moved to the U.S.  I am now 11 years old and live in Menifee with my parents, brother and grandmother.  I’m a fifth grader at Mesa View Elementary School.  We speak three languages in our household (Twi, Ewe, English).  I enjoy playing basketball and reading fixtional books.  I plan on winning this county’s spelling bee

Alternate
Amira Ludwig

Romoland Elementary School
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My favorite hobbies are coding, grafting and making art.  I do not own a pet.  My favorite subjects are art and math.  My ambitions are to become a comic book creater and sell a book to millions.  I entered the bee to show myself what amazing things I can do.  My family members encourage me to do things like the spelling bee; therefore I joined the bee.

San Jacinto Unified School District

Winner
Ethan Mendez

Edward Hyatt World Language Academy
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Ethan “Temo” Mendez, but I prefer to be called Temo. I have two sisters.

One is named Lupita and the second is Arianna. I have two dogs named Oreo and

Aspen. My favorite subject is Math. I also enjoy reading thriller and mystery books, playing Minecraft, soccer and Legos. I love to do camping with church camp for Christ. I love the beach and swim into. When I am older I would like to be a robotics engineer.

Alternate
Max Corum

Edward Hyatt World Language Academy
Grade:  4
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Max. My favorite subject is science. My pets are dogs and their names are Molly, Fiona, Chloe, and Chelsea. The reason why I entered the bee is because my big brother was in the bee. When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian

Spring Charter School

Winner
Joshua Dela Cruz

River Springs Charter School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
I am an eleven year old homeschooled sixth grader. I enjoy reading detective books and helping my mom cook. I used to have a mouse named “Pia” short for Pioneer. My favorite subjects are Math and Science. I entered the School Spelling Bee because I was motivated by my sister, who had placed second in the County Spelling Bee in 2017. When I study the Spelling Bee words, I speak the words out loud multiple times, repeatedly spell the words, and finally have my family quiz me.

Temecula International Academy

Winner
Maya Wehbe

Temecula International Academy
Grade:  5
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Maya.  I love horseback riding and wuld love to be an olympic horse rider.  I also love animals as I have 15 chickens, 3 dogs, 2 goats, 1 fish and 1 donkey.  My favorite subjects are language arts and math.  The reason I entered the Bee is because I enjoy spelling.  I study by going through the whole list, marking what is wrong then studying the marked words.

Alternate
Sofia Poblete

Temecula International Academy
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
Hi, I’m Sofia.  I’m very social and have__________.  My favorite subject is language.  My future ambition is to become a singer or a lawyer.  My teacher encouraged me to join.  I studied with my family for a couple of hours.

Val Verde Unified School District

Winner
Ocean Do

Sierra Vista Elementary School
Grade:  6
Autobiographical Sketch:
I am 12 years old and my hobbies are reading and playing video games.  I have two dogs as pets.  My favorite subjects are math and science.  I plan to attend Stanford University and study medicine and become a surgeon.  I entered this spelling bee because I want to challenge myself and see how far I can go.  To prepare for the bee, I made flash cards and reviewed them.  then my mom went over them with me.  We checked the pronunciation and meaning at Merriam-Webster.com. I am very excited for the County competition.

Alternate
Chaz Adams

Lakeside Middle School
Grade:  7
Autobiographical Sketch:
I enjoy dancing and skating.  My favorite subjects are math and science.  When I grow up, I want to create an environmental friendly replacement for plastic that is easy to produce and inexpensive.  My older sister Cherish Adams inspred me to join the spelling bee.  To study, my sister would play the pronounciation of the word and I would guess how it was spelled using my knowledge or prefixes, suffiexes, language or origin and syllables.  If I got it wrong, I would make a flash card or write the word.

Van Avery Prep

Winner
Edmund Bu

Van Avery Prep
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch:
My name is Edmund Bu.  My hobbies are reading, playing the piano, tennis and video games.  When I was younger, I owned twelve godfish and two sea snails.  My favorite subjects are math and science and I aspire to work in those fields in the future.

Alternate
Kevin Bui

Van Avery Prep
Grade:  8
Autobiographical Sketch: