Penda Ba of Queen Creek is 2017 Arizona State Spelling Bee champion

A broadcast of the 2017 Arizona State Spelling Bee will air at 8 p.m. Friday, April 21, on Arizona PBS (Channel 8).

Penda Ba of Queen Creek won the 2017 Arizona State Spelling Bee March 25 by spelling the word “gigue” in the 29th round. (Special to the Independent/Arizona Educational Foundation)

Eighth-grader Penda Ba from Sossaman Middle School (Maricopa Region 6) outspelled 26 other competitors to win the 2017 Arizona State Spelling Bee March 25.

Penda correctly spelled the word “gigue” in the 29th round to win the bee, which was hosted by the Arizona Educational Foundation in Phoenix.

Penda, 13, attends Sossaman Middle School, 18655 Jacaranda Blvd. in Queen Creek. This was her first time competing in the state spelling bee, according to a press release.

(Read an interview with spelling champ Penda Ba)

In her spare time, Penda enjoys reading, art and spending time with her family and friends.

Runners-up include Tanner Dodt of Prescott Valley, representing Yavapai County, who placed second; Lindsay Davis of Laveen, representing Maricopa County-Region 3, who placed third; Nicola Ferguson of Scottsdale, representing Maricopa County-Region 2, who placed fourth; and Iscent George of Glendale, representing Maricopa County-Region 4, who placed fifth.

“The spelling bee is one of the most highly anticipated programs we sponsor each year,” said Arizona Educational Foundation Executive Director Bobbie O’Boyle. “It’s not hard to see why. We get to showcase these students’ remarkable talents and offer an opportunity for these kids to celebrate their academic achievements every year at the Arizona State Spelling Bee.”

Penda will head to Washington D.C., May 28-June 3 to represent Arizona in the 90th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

In addition to an all-expenses paid trip for two to the nation’s capital, she won $800 cash and a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

All 27 finalists received a choice of The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, courtesy of Harrison Middleton University.

A broadcast of the 2017 Arizona State Spelling Bee will air at 8 p.m. Friday, April 21, on Arizona PBS (Channel 8). Viewers can also watch the program with highlights from the event on the Arizona PBS website ( after the air-date.

For more information about the Arizona Educational Foundation, visit

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