County spellers compete tonight

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Eighteen children will be putting their best spelling feet forward tonight in an effort to win a trip the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., this spring.

The 2019 Belmont County Spelling Bee kicks off at 7 p.m. today at the theater in Ohio University Eastern’s Shannon Hall. The participating students won their respective schools’ spelling bees and now will compete against each other on stage at OUE.

This is the 33rd year for the county bee, sponsored by The Times Leader, Belmont Savings Bank, The Health Plan, Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel, Airport Limousine and East Central Ohio Educational Service Center.

“Here at The Times Leader, we are proud to support our local schools and to encourage literacy with our annual sponsorship of the Belmont County Spelling Bee,” Managing Editor Jennifer Compston-Strough said. “We also truly appreciate all of our event sponsors, who do a great deal to help make it possible for us to bring this exciting experience to so many area middle-schoolers.

“Finally, we wish all of the participants in tonight’s bee the best of luck!”

The first-place winner of the contest receives a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., which includes one parent and one teacher/coach; $500 in cash; a first-place trophy; a Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online Certificate; The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award; a plaque with two winning words for school display; the Traveling Trophy for school display; and a one-year subscription to the Britannica Online Premium.

Amtrak travel to Washington, D.C., is being provided by Uniglobe Travel. Shuttle service to the Pittsburgh Amtrak station will be provided by Airport Limousine Service Inc.

The second place winner will receive $250 in cash, the second place trophy and a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition).

The third place winner will receive $150 in cash and a third place trophy, thanks to Jenkins Sporting Goods of St. Clairsville.

The fourth place winner will receive $100 in cash and a fourth place trophy.

The program artwork winner will receive a $50 cash prize and a plaque.

All finalists finishing in places 5-18 will receive a certificate to be redeemed for a $50 cash prize, compliments of Belmont Savings Bank. All contestants will receive medals, ribbons, certificates and bobbleheads.

The winner of the 2018 Belmont County Spelling Bee, Linh Le, also had the honor of being the first contestant in the country to qualify for the national competition — an event she termed a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Now and ninth-grader at St. Clairsville High School, Le said she didn’t expect to win the grand prize at the county bee — especially not during her final year of eligibility,

“It truly was a dream come true, four years in the making,” she said.

In addition to competing in the initial rounds of the bee in Washington last spring, Le said she enjoyed the week full of activities surrounding the contest as well as touring some of the sites and museums in D.C.

“The word ‘leggiermente’ knocked me out of the competition in round two,” Le noted. “The experience was very exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time. However, I am still grateful for the experience.”

During the bee tonight, stage greenery will be provided by Lendon Florist and Garden Center. Cookies will be available courtesy of the Belmont-Harrison Career Center.

Participating spellers and their schools include: Anabehle Brandenburg of Martins Ferry; Jane Alexander of St. John Central; Josalyn Canter of Bridgeport; Maya Metz of St. John Central; Andrew Abel of St. Clairsville; Hallie Lawson of Shadyside; Bethany McElfresh of Bellaire; Raena Simpson of Martins Ferry; Lee Adkins of Union Local; Jayden Koonce of Bridgeport; McKenna Miller of St. Clairsville; Rachael Lampert of East Richland Christian; Rylie Porter of Bellaire; Hannah Leach of Barnesville; Clay Utter of Union Local; Peyton McEndree of Barnesville; Gracie Crumm of East Richland Christian ; and Madeleine Crum of Shadyside.

Coordinators of the spelling bee are Denise Leach, Jennifer Kaczor, Amy Vavrock, Selina Brooks, Sue Ogden, Lisa Yoho, Adam Mitchell, Becky Hill, Barbie McKeegan, Carol Henderson-Drake, Beth Rushton, Kayla Tice, Christine Smith, Ron Bober, Lisa Stupak, Amber Toriseva and Joe Lovell.

Bee officials include pronouncers Amy Vavrock and Lisa Duvall; judges Teresa Rice, MaryAnn Galbreath and Mary Jane Wood; rules judges Lisa Stupak and Amber Toriseva; and recorder and protest official Leslie Kosanovic.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is slated for May 27-30.