Wednesday, December 8, 2021
44.5 F
Fort Worth

National Spelling Bee called off because of coronavirus

🕐 3 min read

The Scripps National Spelling Bee won’t be held as scheduled this year because of the coronavirus, meaning years of preparation by some of the country’s top spellers could go for naught.

Scripps cited state and federal recommendations against large gatherings Friday as it canceled plans to hold the contest during the week of May 24. Scripps said it would try to reschedule for later this year but did not commit to a new date. It’s possible the bee won’t be held at all.

“Canceling the bee would cause an emotional breakdown for most spellers,” Navneeth Murali, a 14-year-old bee veteran from Edison, New Jersey, told The Associated Press. “It would basically be crushing their dreams.”

Navneeth’s parents joined with families of other top spellers to send an email to executive director Paige Kimble, urging her to reschedule. Kimble expressed confidence that the logistics of holding a bee later this year could be worked out.

“If it is abundantly clear that it is safe to hold an in-person gathering, we’re going to do everything we can possibly do to have that happen,” Kimble told AP. “And if it isn’t possible, we’re going to do everything in our power to re-imagine something that would still happen for kids.”

Most nationally competitive spellers devote years of their lives to mastering the dictionary and learning roots and language patterns, hoping for a win before they age out. Navneeth, who finished fifth in 2018 and 11th last year, is among the eighth-graders preparing for their last shot at the title.

“I’ve spent so many hours and made so many sacrifices in order to see this dream come true,” he said.

The bee’s rules require only that participants not move beyond eighth grade before Aug. 31, which means if this year’s bee were held later than that, the competition could include some ninth-graders for the first time.

The Scripps bee began in 1925 and this year’s, if it happens, would be the 93rd. The contest was not held from 1943-45 because of World War II.

The postponement became inevitable as regional bees have been called off. Kimble said 97 of the 252 spots in the field expected to be filled by the winners of sponsored regional bees are vacant.

Among the spellers who have yet to earn a spot is Simone Kaplan, who finished ninth last year — just behind the eight spellers known as “octo-champs” who tied for first place. Simone, a 14-year-old from Davie, Florida, had her regional bee called off earlier this week.

A bee held in the fall would present new challenges for the academically gifted teenager, whose nonstop, year-round bee preparation includes regular private coaching sessions.

“I would be starting high school and I might be involved in a lot more stuff,” Simone said. “There’s honors classes that I have to study for, I might be involved in some new extracurricular activities and it might be hard to study as hard for the bee with all that going on.”

Hepzibah Sujoe, a 13-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, said she was putting her post-spelling summer plans on hold in anticipation of preparing for a later bee. The eighth-grader’s older brother, Ansun Sujoe, was a 2014 co-champion.

“With my whole family behind me, I wanted to make this last year count,” Hepzibah said. “I really hope that Scripps still happens this year.”

Kimble said both the venue and ESPN are open to the prospect of rescheduling.

“My heart goes out to all the spellers,” said Kimble, herself a former champion. “I’m almost 40 years removed from my speller days, but I can still keenly recall how hard I worked for, dreamed about and anticipated the national finals. We are going to do our best to make something happen in spite of the constraints that COVID-19 is imposing on all our lives.”

Related Articles

Our Digital Sponsors

Latest Articles

Fort Worth Business Press Logo
This advertisement will close in
00
Months
00
Days
00
Hours
00
Minutes
00
Seconds
seconds..
Click here to continue to Fort Worth Business Press

Not ready to subscribe?

Try a few articles on us.

Enter your email address and we will give you access to three articles a month, to give us a try. You also get an opportunity to receive our newsletter with stories of the day.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date with the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in the Fort Worth.

  • Restaurants
  • Technology
  • and more!

FWBP Morning Brief

FWBP 5@5

Weekend Newsletter

  • Banking & Finance
  • Culture
  • Real Estate