Champion Spellers

LET THE spelling begin.

The 2012 Belmont County Spelling Bee plays out tonight at Ohio University Eastern. It will bring together the best spellers throughout the county, determined by bees at their respective schools.

Two spellers from each school punched their tickets into tonight’s extravaganza.

It’s a special honor for the young students to even advance to the county bee. We commend all those contestants for excelling at their home schools.

The pressure and stakes escalate at OUE.

Participants will be vying for the chance to advance to the 85th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. That prestigious spell-off will be staged May 27 to June 1 in Washington, D.C.

Each participant tonight will receive ribbons, plaques and certificates, as well as a $50 cash prize, compliments of The Citizens Bank.

The talented participants are taking aim at the first-place title and trophy, and the chance to compete against the best spellers in the country at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The winner of the Belmont County Spelling Bee will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. which includes deluxe accommodations for the student, a parent and coach during the week of the national competition.

Tonight’s champion will also receive a $500 cash prize, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged), the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a plaque with the two winning words for school display, Traveling Trophy for school display (compliments of major sponsors The Times Leader and Riesbeck’s), a one-year subscription to the Britannica Online for Kids and an gift certificate.

The Belmont County Spelling Bee runnerup will take home a $250 cash prize, a second-place trophy, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition), and a one-year subscription to the Britannica Kids Online.

For taking home third-place honors, a student will receive a $200 cash prize, a third-place trophy (compliments of Jenkins Sporting Goods in St. Clairsville), and a one-year subscription to the Britannica Kids Online. The fourth-place winner, meanwhile, will receive a $150 cash prize, a fourth-place trophy and an gift certificate.

Regardless of tonight’s eventual outcome, each contestant has demonstrated he or she has what it takes to be a winner. Each has responded to pressure and attained success.

We commend the bee sponsors for their commitment to our youth and we thank all the officials involved in making the event such a worthwhile undertaking.

We also congratulate Natalie Cervelli. The St. John Grade School student returns to defend the title she captured a year ago.

The Times Leader, Riesbeck’s and all the other sponsors are proud to be associated with such a class event and they extend good luck to all the spellers!