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County spellers prepare for The Bee

Barton County students have been consulting their dictionaries and studying lists of words in anticipation of the annual Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis Club. The Bee will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Great Bend High School Auditorium.
The public is invited to attend, said Kate Wary, this year’s bee coordinator. It starts promptly at 10 a.m. with two practice rounds to get the spellers comfortable with the format. Audience members, and any spellers who arrive late, must be seated before the “live” rounds start, around 10:30 a.m.

The winner and runner-up from the Barton County Bee will advance to the Sunflower Spelling Bee, which will be held March 3 at the Beach Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the Fort Hays State University campus. The winner of the Sunflower Spelling Bee will travel to the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the end of May. As the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, the Bee has proven itself as more than a competition for children; it is a classic element of Americana, sponsors said.
“We have 11 schools again this year and 22 students participating at the Barton County Spelling Bee,” Wary said. This is her first year as the bee coordinator. Long-time bee coordinator Paul Snapp will continue to assist as a member of the spelling bee committee along with Joe Boley, Paul Maneth and Arlen Schroeder.
Judges this year will be Jean Cavanaugh, Will Rains and Jay Luerman. Rob Bauer will provide introductions and serve as the master of ceremonies, and Dr. David Hart will be the pronouncer.
Kiwanis President Barb Esfeld will make an audio recording of the participants as they spell in case the judges need to re-listen to a spelling or in case of a discrepancy. Volunteers from the Great Bend Kiwanis Club assist with setting up the auditorium and cleaning up after the event, and many of the volunteers helping at the event are also affiliated with the club.

“Last year’s champion, Lane Klepper of St. Joseph School in Ellinwood, was in eighth grade last year, making him ineligible to participate because of his age,” Wary said. “However, last year’s runner-up, Caden Rowan, also from St. Joseph in Ellinwood, will be participating again this year.”
The Kiwanis Club has sponsored this event annually since 1978. It is officially known as the Donald H. Humphreys Barton County Spelling Bee “in remembrance of everything Mr. Humphreys did as a volunteer helping the youth of this community,” Wary said. Humphreys (1932-2008), an attorney in Great Bend, coordinated the Barton County Spelling Bee for many years.