The top winner from Fresno County’s annual spelling bee contest will get a chance to square off with competitors from across the country in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year.
For the first time, the local event will be sponsored by The Fresno Bee, the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State and the Fresno County Office of Education, which will allow the area’s best speller to participate in the nationally televised spelling bee from Maryland in May.
“It’s a chance of a lifetime for one student,” said Shirley Hargis, English Language Arts/English Language Development consultant at the office of education. “It’s an amazing thing that we will have someone from Fresno County representing us on a national level.”
It’s a chance of a lifetime for one student. It’s an amazing thing that we will have someone from Fresno County representing us on a national level.
Shirley Hargis, Fresno County Office of Education
The office of education has held a local competition for more than two decades, sending its top two winners from elementary (fourth to sixth grades) and middle school (seventh to eighth grades) to the California State Spelling Bee. Now, the top winner from the county spelling bee on March 15, to be held at the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State, will represent Fresno County at nationals.
Here is how it will work: Students must qualify for the Fresno County Spelling Bee through their school district. Each district is allowed to send two elementary and two middle school students to the county competition. The top two finishers from elementary and middle school will compete in a spell off to determine the county’s overall winner.
More than 220 Fresno County schools and hundreds of students have been invited to participate. The county contest normally has about 40 elementary participants, while the junior high category has had about 35 competitors. The county anticipates slightly higher numbers this year, Hargis said, “due to the excitement of going on to nationals.”
“We are delighted to be able to sponsor the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Fresno County and give our local winner an opportunity to compete in the national competition,” said Tom Cullinan, publisher and president of The Fresno Bee.
“The Fresno County Department of Education and the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State are our partners, and this has been a team effort in holding the local Scripps spelling competition.”