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What’s the Buzz? Fresno Spelling Champ Headed to National Event



Japleen Dhillon won Fresno County's Scripps National Spelling Bee qualifier. (Fresno County Office of the Superintendent of Schools)
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Fresno County crowned its new Spelling Bee champion on Tuesday.

Japleen Dhillon, an eighth grader from Central Unified School District, will represent Fresno County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June in Maryland.

Japleen was one of four students — the top two elementary and top two middle school students — competing in the Scripps qualifier on Tuesday. The county’s 27th annual spell-off was held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.

Japleen, who attends Rio Vista Middle, took second place in the middle school competition. The winner was Hailey Trogdon, a student at Fresno Christian Middle School.

In the elementary school division, Aarya Sodha of Sanger Unified School District won first place and Phong Nguyen-Tran, a Clovis Unified student, came in second.

Aarya and Hailey will advance to the state competition, which is not connected with the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Japleen’s winning word was “unwonted,” which means unaccustomed or unusual.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email