Scripps National Spelling Bee and HCLS Spelling Bee
2021 HCLS Virtual Spelling Bee Takes Place on Saturday, March 20, 2021
and the Scripps National Bee, June 1-3, 2021
September 25 update – Howard County Library System is proud to once again bring to your students in grades 4 through 8 the opportunity to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee program!
NEW THIS YEAR: The Bee has developed an online testing platform that will allow you to administer your school spelling bee program, whether students are learning in your classrooms or remotely from their homes. The online testing platform will be available in October to give you increased flexibility when administering your school’s spelling bee program.
April 24 update – We received official notice that Scripps has canceled the National Spelling Bee for 2020. The HCLS Spelling Bee is now canceled as well. These actions are due to the ongoing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus and uncertainty around when public gatherings will be possible or advisable.
This decision follows the announcement on March 20 that Scripps was suspending the national finals with hopes of rescheduling. Scripps has determined there is no clear path to safely set a new date this year.
While plans for a 2020 championship have ended, Scripps National Spelling Bee is engaging with students and parents by offering educational resources and social media-based learning opportunities.
A note from Scripps’ executive director, Paige Kimble:
Our thoughts immediately go to our spellers and their families. The students have dedicated time and effort to their passion for learning. They should be proud of all they have accomplished by winning spelling bees at the classroom, school and regional level. Nevertheless, our first priority has to be the health and well-being of our spellers and their families and the hundreds of staff and spectators that come together for Bee Week.
Our hearts go out to the spellers who won’t get their final shot at winning because of the pandemic and the difficult decisions it is prompting us to make. They are now part of a widely expanding group of children and adults who are missing out on opportunities due to the coronavirus.
This was a very difficult decision and we share in the disappointment of our students, teachers and parents. Our main priority remains the health and safety of our staff and community.
March 20 update – Please note Scripps has suspended the National Bee. In the short term, the HCLS Spelling Bee, which had been rescheduled for May 2, is postponed until further notice.
Scripps is exploring potential solutions, including perhaps an online or virtual solution, to help local sponsors like HCLS hold a local bee. We are in conversation with Scripps and expect to receive further guidance in the next couple of weeks.
As noted by Scripps: If possible, the Bee will work with local sponsors, spellers, convention partners, and ESPN to reschedule the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee for later this year.
A speller qualifying for the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee(SNSB) in Washington, DC, must meet these requirements:
- The speller must not have won a Scripps National Spelling Bee championship in Washington, DC.
- The speller must attend a school that officially enrolled with the Scripps National Spelling Bee via HCLS.
- The speller must not have passed beyond the eighth grade on or before February 1, 2020.
- The speller must not have repeated any grade for the purpose of extending spelling bee eligibility. If the speller has repeated any grade, the speller must notify the Scripps National Spelling Bee of the circumstances of grade repetition by March 31, 2020; and the Scripps National Spelling Bee will, at its sole discretion, determine the speller’s eligibility status on or before April 30, 2020.
- The speller – or the speller’s parent, legal guardian, or school official acting on the speller’s behalf – must not have declared to another entity an academic classification higher than eighth grade for any purpose, including high school graduation equivalency or proficiency examinations and/or examinations such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT.
- The speller must not have earned the legal equivalent of a high school diploma.
- The speller must not have completed or have been enrolled in more than six high school-level courses or two college-level courses on or before April 30, 2020.
- The speller must not eschew normal school activity to study for spelling bees. The Scripps National Spelling Bee defines normal school activity as adherence to at least four courses of study other than language arts, spelling, Latin, Greek, vocabulary, and etymology for at least four hours per weekday for 34 of the 38 weeks between August 27, 2019 and May 22, 2020.
- The speller must not have reached his/her 15th birthday on or before August 31, 2019.
- The speller must have been declared a champion of a final, local spelling bee on or after February 1, 2020.
- The speller, upon qualifying for the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee must submit a completed Champion Bio Form, a Certification of Eligibility Form, a signed Appearance Consent and Release Form, and a hard copy photo to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The speller will notify the Bee – at least 24 hours prior to the first day of competition in the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee – if any of the statements made on the Certification of Eligibility Form are no longer true or require updating. Howard County Library System will provide access to the necessary forms.
- The speller must not have any first, second, or third relatives (i.e. sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neice, nephew, half-sibling, first cousin, or great grandparent) who are current employees of the E.W. Scripps Company.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee may disqualify prior to or during competition any speller who is not in compliance with any of its Eligibility Requirements; and it may – at any time between the conclusion of the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee and April 30, 2021 – require any speller who is found to have not been in compliance with any of the Eligibility Requirements to forfeit the prizes, rank, and other benefits accorded to the speller as a result of participation in the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Howard County Library System (HCLS) does not make participation in its local spelling bee program contingent upon any of the following: race, religion, creed, gender, the type of school one attends, membership in an organization, or subscription to a publication.
Home school students are eligible under the same requirements that apply to students attending public, private, or parochial schools. Home school students who are not part of an association must participate in an association bee. Individual families cannot host their own bees and send their winner to the HCLS Spelling Bee.
HCLS has complete autonomy to determine how home schools participate in its spelling bee program. Students who do not participate within HCLS’ designated qualification structure are not eligible.
The spelling bee is conducted orally in rounds. Each speller remaining in the spelling bee at the start of a round spells one word in each round.
Local spelling bee officials are responsible for selecting the word lists for use in their spelling bees and are encouraged to select word lists generated by the SNSB that are dated 2020. These word lists include many words that appear in the current edition of two study resources — the School Spelling Bee Study List and Words of the Champions. Also, these word lists end with a section of words that do not appear in the aforementioned study resources and are for use near the end of a local spelling bee, if the local bee officials determine that their use in the spelling bee is warranted. All words appearing on 2020 SNSB word lists are entries in Merriam-Webster Unabridged, the official dictionary of the SNSB, available at http://unabridged.merriam- webster.com/. Merriam-Webster Unabridged is the final authority and sole source for the spelling of words; the primary source used to craft the pronunciations, definitions and language origins for the SNSB word lists; and the only authority to be consulted by spelling bee officials, as well as the sole source used during the spelling bee to verify the information in 2020 SNSB word lists. Some alternate pronunciations appearing in 2020 SNSB word lists may have been drawn from Merriam- Webster print publications because the SNSB deemed the information helpful to the speller.
Spelling bee officials will strive to provide accommodation for spellers who have physical challenges. All requests for spelling bee officials to accommodate special needs involving sight, hearing, speech, or movement should be directed to spelling bee officials well in advance of the spelling bee date. The judges have discretionary power to amend oral and/or written spelling requirements on a case-by-case basis for spellers with diagnosed medical conditions involving sight, hearing, speech, or movement.
The pronouncer strives to pronounce words according to the diacritical markings in Scripps National Spelling Bee word lists.
- Homonyms: If a word has one or more homonyms, the pronouncer indicates which word is to be spelled by defining the word.
- Speller’s requests: The pronouncer responds to the speller’s requests for a definition, sentence, part of speech, language(s) of origin, and alternate pronunciation(s) as listed in the competition word list produced by Scripps National Spelling Bee. The pronouncer does not entertain root word questions or requests for alternate definitions or markedly slower pronunciation.
- Pronouncer’s sense of helpfulness: The pronouncer may offer word information – without the speller having requested the information – if the pronouncer senses that the information is helpful and the information is presented in the entry for the word in a 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee word list.
The judges uphold the rules and determine whether words are spelled correctly. They also render final decisions on appeals in accordance with the Appeals section. They are in complete control of the competition, and their decision is final on all questions.
- Interaction with the speller: Because seeing the speller’s lip movements may be critical in detecting misunderstandings or misspellings, the judges encourage spellers to face them when pronouncing and spelling the word.
- Notice of rules: The judges ensure that all spellers and audience members are given an opportunity to receive a complete copy of the rules prior to the start of the spelling bee.
- Misunderstandings: The judges participate in the exchange of information between the speller and pronouncer if they feel that clarification is needed. Also, the judges listen carefully to the speller’s pronunciation of the word; and, if they sense that the speller has misunderstood the word, the judges work with the speller and pronouncer until they are satisfied that reasonable attempts have been made to assist the speller in understanding the word. While the judges are responsible for attempting to detect a speller’s misunderstanding, it is sometimes impossible to detect a misunderstanding until a spelling error has been made. The judges are not responsible for the speller’s misunderstanding.
- Pronouncer errors: The judges compare the pronouncer’s pronunciation with the diacritical markings in the word list. If the judges determine that the pronouncer’s pronunciation does not match the pronunciation specified in the diacritical markings, the judges direct the pronouncer to correct the error as soon as it is detected.
- Disqualifications for reasons other than error: The judges will disqualify a speller (1) who refuses a request to start spelling; (2) who does not approach the microphone when it is time to receive the word; (3) who does not comply with the eligibility requirements; (4) who engages in unsportsmanlike conduct; (5) who, in the process of retracing a spelling, alters the letters or sequence of letters from those first uttered; or (6) who, in the process of spelling, utters unintelligible or nonsense sounds. Speller activities that do not merit disqualification: The judges may not disqualify a speller (1) for failing to pronounce the word either before or after spelling it, (2) for asking a question, or (3) for noting or failing to note the capitalization of a word, the presence of a diacritical mark, the presence of a hyphen or other form of punctuation, or spacing between words in an open compound.
The speller makes an effort to face the judges and pronounce the word for the judges before spelling it and after spelling it. The speller, while facing the judges, makes an effort to utter each letter distinctly and with sufficient volume to be understood by the judges. The speller may ask the pronouncer to say the word again, define it, use it in a sentence, provide the part of speech, provide the language(s) of origin, and/or provide an alternate pronunciation or pronunciations as listed on the pronouncer’s competition word list produced by Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Misunderstandings: The judges participate in the exchange of information between the speller and pronouncer if they feel that clarification is needed. Also, the judges listen carefully to the speller’s pronunciation of the word; and, if they sense that the speller has misunderstood the word, the judges work with the speller and pronouncer until they are satisfied that reasonable attempts have been made to assist the speller in understanding the word. While the judges are responsible for attempting to detect a speller’s misunderstanding, it is sometimes impossible to detect a misunderstanding until an error has been made. The judges are not responsible for the speller’s misunderstanding.
Correction of a misspelling: The pronouncer and judges will not ask the speller to correct another speller’s misspelling, except at the end of the bee.
Misspelling:Upon incorrectly spelling a word, the speller immediately drops out of the competition, except at the end of the bee.
- When the number of spellers is reduced to two, the elimination procedure changes. At that point, when one speller misspells a word, the other speller shall be given an opportunity to spell that same word. If the second speller spells that word correctly, plus the next word on the pronouncer’s list, then the second speller shall be declared the champion.
- If one of the last two spellers misspells a word and the other speller, after correcting the error, misspells the new word, then the misspelled new word shall be referred to the other speller. If this other speller then succeeds in correcting the error and spells the next word on the list, then he or she shall be declared the champion.
- If both spellers misspell the same word, both shall continue in the competition, and the one who first misspelled the word shall be given a new word to spell.
Merriam-Webster Unabridged, shall serve as the final authority for the spelling of words. If more than one spelling is listed for a word that the pronouncer has provided for the speller to spell, any of these spellings shall be accepted as correct if all of the following three criteria are met: (1) the pronunciations of the words are identical, (2) the definitions of the words are identical, and (3) the words are clearly identified as being standard variants of each other. Spellings at other locations having temporal labels (such as archaic, obsolete), stylistic labels (such as substand, nonstand), or regional labels (such as North, Midland, Irish) which differ from main entry spellings not having these status labels shall not be accepted as correct.
Any question relating to the spelling of a word should be referred to the designated official immediately in writing on the official appeal form. The official appeal form should contain space for the following: the word in question, the name of the speller, and the reason for the appeal.
Appeals may be filed by a parent, legal guardian, or teacher of the speller who is seeking reinstatement in the contest. The judges will not entertain appeals from individuals seeking to dislodge another speller from the competition. The deadline for filing an appeal is before the speller affected would have received his/her next word had s/he stayed in the competition. No appeal will be entertained after that word has been given to another speller. When five or fewer spellers remain, the written appeal requirement is suspended, and an oral appeal must be made before the speller would have received their next word had they stayed in the spelling bee. When only two spellers remain, an oral appeal must be made immediately, that is, before the speller affected would have received his/her next word had s/he stayed in the competition.
If the speller’s spelling is listed in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged, the speller should be reinstated if all of the following three criteria are met:
(1) The pronunciations of the words are identical
(2) the definitions of the words are identical,
(3) the words are clearly identified as being standard varients of each other.
Invalid grounds for reinstatement: The judges will not entertain appeals on the following grounds:
- The pronouncer allegedly mispronounced the word.
- The pronouncer offered pronunciations and/or word information that the speller did not request, and the unrequested information contributed to the misspelling.
- One or all Bee officials indicated to the speller that the speller was pronouncing the word correctly, but the speller’s spelling indicates that the speller wasn’t pronouncing it correctly.
- One or all Bee officials did not inform the speller before spelling that the speller’s pronunciation was incorrect and/or that the speller was misunderstanding the word, and this inaction contributed to the misspelling.
- The speller offered a correct spelling as indicated in a dictionary other than Merriam-Webster Unabridged or other online or print sources.
- The pronouncer did not answer a root word question or provide the correct root word.
- The pronouncer did not honor the speller’s request to slow down the pronunciation of the word, break the word’s pronunciation into syllables, or provide an alternate definition or sentence.
Spellings at other locations having temporal labels (such as archaic, obsolete), stylistic labels (such as substand, nonstand), or regional labels (such as North, Midland, Irish) which differ from main entry spellings not having these status labels will not be accepted as correct.
The judges are in complete control of the competition. The judge’s decisions are final and are subject neither to review nor to reversal by Scripps National Spelling Bee’s headquarters office.