Bee provides valuable lessons

For Grace McKeegan, victory was spelled “Moscow” Saturday afternoon.

That was the winning word in Saturday’s Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee, Presented by the Herald-Star. And, as a result of her efforts on the stage at Buckeye North Elementary, McKeegan has earned an all-expenses paid trip to represent our area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, scheduled to be held as part of Bee Week, May 27 through June 2, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

McKeegan, who also finished first in the 2017 bee, is the eighth pupil to win the local bee more than once since the Herald-Star started the program in 1985.

In addition to the competition, which will be held May 29-31, McKeegan and her family will have plenty of time to meet the other participants and take in the sights in the Washington, D.C., area.

The spelling bee program has experienced a great deal of growth, thanks in large part to the work of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and area sponsors. Among those who stepped up to help this year are the Hess Corp.; S.T.A.R.T. and 360 Safe Solutions; Huntington Bank; PNC Bank; WesBanco; Tri-State Financial Services; the Franciscan University of Steubenville and McBane Insurance and Financial Services. The Ohio Lottery Commission again paid the entry fees for every school in the state, and Merriam-Webster Inc. and Encyclopaedia Britannica also provided prizes.

Working to make sure the bee program runs smoothly are Ron Sismondo, the bee coordinator, and the staff at the educational service center, as well as a committee that includes representatives from each school district and the newspaper. Dedicated teachers and administrators at each school, meanwhile, have guided the pupils through a process that began shortly after the summer break came to an end.

According to Scripps, which has sponsored the bee program since 1925, more than 11 million pupils from many parts of the world have participated this year. The program’s purpose, Scripps said, has remained the same through all of those years: Help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage.

Fewer than 300 pupils will have the chance to compete in the national bee. McKeegan will be among them, and we’ll be rooting for her at the national bee.