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Bee Week is almost here

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is next week, the time of year where brilliant elementary and middle school kids descend upon the capital to spell any word in the English language at the drop of a hat while I break my TV fast to watch them do it and try to spell the words with them. I’m decent at it, but some words trip up even me.

A few highlights:

* Ethan Ruggery is the youngest speller at eight years old. He’ll get a lot of attention this year because of his age, but it’ll be interesting to see whether he’ll be back in future years, especially as repeat spellers have the advantage of going through the spelling circuit before.

* Last year’s spellers from my area (Tanay Patri) and from my heartland (Julia Denniss) are back again. Both are three-time participants. This is Julia’s last year of eligibility since she’s an eighth-grader, but Tanay has one more year. He could be a four-year repeater this year if he doesn’t win this year.

* One of my personal favorites and one of last year’s finalists, Laura Newcombe from Toronto. This is her last chance to compete in the bee since she’s an eighth-grader, so she’ll definitely be in it to win it this year. She will also never forget “confiserie”, the word of French origin she missed last year.

* There are three spellers who are back for the fourth time, including another favorite, Julianna Canabal-Rodríguez. (Yes, I enjoy pulling for international spellers. While I do cheer for all the spellers, I find myself mentally bonding with certain ones for one reason or another.) This is also her last chance in the bee because she too is an eighth-grader. The other two, Rahul Malayappan and Nicholas Rushlow, are seventh-graders and therefore have one more year left to compete. While this bit of trivia isn’t completely causative, there have been more spelling bee champions from Ohio than any other state. Hmm.

* Joanne Ye is also back for the second year, meaning two of last year’s finalists are back for a chance at the championship. Like her returning finalist Laura, this is her last year at the bee. Will her hometown have a better reason to celebrate Joanne Ye Day? We shall see.

I’ll have a more indepth analysis as Bee Week comes closer, meaning when I put off writing enough to read through the spellers’ profiles. Who’s going to watch?

6 replies on “Bee Week is almost here”

Ohio sends a large contingent of spellers (18), along with Illinois (also 18). Of course California, New York and Texas send large numbers of spellers, but they are more in proportion with their populations. North Carolina has a smaller population than Georgia, but NC sends 13 spellers, while GA sends only two. I would guess that there is a strong correlation between the number of spellers that a state sends and the number of victories.

This is a very good point. I haven’t done any research on champions and geography, but a quick look shows that two champions have hailed from Illinois, despite the number of spellers the state sends (and one of those winners won in 1931!). Some schools are affiliated with a sponsor in the next state; mine was, and I’m guessing that’s the case for many other schools in Georgia despite its size, and probably in other states as well based on the champion list.

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