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Local Spelling Bee champ hopes to make the cut for State Bee
file 2020 spelling bee
Barton County Spelling Bee Master of Ceremonies Kate Wary presented trophies and awards to the winners of the Barton County Spelling Bee, Feb. 15, 2020, at the Great Bend High School Auditorium. First-place winner was Sydney Mattison, left, and second-place winner was Jacklyn Garcia, right.

Barton County’s 2020 Spelling Bee champion, Sydney Mattison, hopes to represent the county at the Sunflower State Spelling Bee. It all depends on how she scored in a recent spelling test.

Kate Wary from the Great Bend Kiwanis Club was the coordinator for the Barton County bee, which the club has sponsored every year since 1978. She received word from the Kansas Press Association that even though the Scripps National Spelling Bee for 2020 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sunflower State Spelling Bee is going to proceed.

The state bee was originally scheduled for March 21 at Newman University in Wichita.

“We still wanted to offer our bee to your county bee winner,” said Amber Jackson with the Kansas Press Association. “It is going to be a little different and we will need (coordinators’) help to get it done. Due to gathering limitations we will be narrowing down the field by doing a written test.” County coordinators have been asked to administer the tests.

“They are going to hold a state spelling bee, but they are trying to narrow the field from 150 spellers to a more manageable number given the gathering size requirements,” Wary said. 

“Last week, the county coordinators, including myself, received a set of 25 words to give to our speller in a written test format.”

On Tuesday, Mattison came to the conference room at the Bauer, Pike, Bauer, Wary & Carroll law office our office and Julie Carrol – the pronouncer at the County Bee earlier this year – read the words aloud to her.

“She recorded her answers on the answer sheet provided by the state,” Wary said. “I participated as the judge and moderator via Zoom. The words on the list were VERY difficult. They are definitely making their best effort to weed people out. I have no doubt, however, that Sydney is up to the task!

“We have sent her answer sheet to the state to be judged. Every county in the state of Kansas will be doing the same with their winner in the next week or two. Entries are due June 11th. We will not know how Sydney did or whether she has earned a spot in the in-person competition until her results can be scored and compared with the results of spellers from other counties.

“In the meantime, we wish her well and congratulate her on making it this far!  Winning the County Bee itself is a great accomplishment, and we are proud to have Sydney competing for Barton County at the next round of competition, albeit in an unprecedented manner this year.”

The Barton County Bee faced its own obstacles this year when a January snowstorm cause it to be rescheduled in February. Not all of the 20 students who qualified were able to attend.

Mattison, an eighth-grader at Great Bend Middle School, won first place. Her championship word was “porridge.” GBMS seventh-garder Jacklyn Garcia was named runner-up after winning her round with the word “bonito.” Garcia also won the county spelling bee in 2019 when she was a sixth-grader at Riley Elementary School.