The Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. gets under way Tuesday with 278 spellers, including the Great Bend Tribune’s 2012 Sunflower Spelling Bee champion, Clara Wicoff from Iola Middle School.
Round One will be a computer spelling test taken by all contestants. Rounds Two and Three will be on stage Wednesday. Wicoff, who is contestant number 91, will be in the first of two groups and will take the stage at 7 a.m., Great Bend time. At the end of Round Three the field will be narrowed to the semifinalists. The number of semifinalists is expected to be 50 or fewer.
Semifinals start a 9 a.m. on Thursday, with opening remarks and introductions at 8:45 a.m., Great Bend time. The event will be televised live on ESPN2. The finals start at 7 p.m. Thursday following opening remarks at 6:45 p.m. They will be televised on ESPN.
According to the official Bee website, the spellers’ favorite words include cwm, serendipity and humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Wicoff said her favorite word is borborygmus. “It’s the sound your stomach makes when you’re hungry.” She told Bee officials her favorite subject is school is math, which was named as a favorite by 110 of this year’s spellings. Science is the next most popular subject.
Tribune Publisher Mary Hoisington said the newspaper sponsored the first Sunflower Spelling Bee in 2008, after the Topeka Capital Journal dropped many Kansas counties from its bee sponsorship area. “We knew how important the bee was to area kids,” she said. With a contestants from 75 Kansas counties, the Sunflower Spelling Bee is considered the state bee for three-fourths of Kansas. Two other national contestants are from Kansas. Ten-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe is sponsored by The Olathe News. Emma Steimle, 14, of Lawrence is sponsored by The Topeka Capital Journal.
Wicoff is the only spell who has attended all five of the Tribune-sponsored Sunflower Spelling Bees, and she has improved each year, Hoisington said. “It’s been really neat seeing her grow over the last five years,” Hoisington said.