The top 281 spellers from many parts of the world will gather in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center Tuesday. They will have come to National Harbor, Md., to compete in the annual Scripps National Bee, and you will be able to count Nathan Keenan among them.
Keenan, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Toronto High School and son of James and Jeanine Keenan of Toronto, earned his spot in the national bee on March 2 when he finished first in the Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee. He and his family are scheduled to travel from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., on Amtrak through arrangements made with Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel of Wheeling.
They will be participating in Bee Week, which runs Sunday through Friday. In addition to the competition, the competitors will have the chance to participate in many activities, including a barbecue, tours of the Washington area and an awards banquet.
In addition to the United States, competitors will come from American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Europe, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea. The winning speller will receive a $30,000 cash prize and engraved trophy from Scripps; a $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster; and $2,000 in reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.
Each participant is guaranteed to receive a $100 Visa gift card, and that's in addition to prizes they have already won at the local level.
The Herald-Star has sponsored our area's regional competition since 1985, with the help of officials at the Jefferson County Education Service Center. Helping this year to make the bee possible were Eastern Gateway Community College, the Rotary Club of Steubenville, Huntington Bank, Uniglobe Travel, Amtrak and the Ohio Lottery Commission.
The national bee will be televised on the platforms of ESPN, beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday on ESPN3. Coverage shifts to ESPN2 at 2 p.m. Thursday, with the finals set to begin at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.
Keenan will be one of 134 boys in the field. He will be among the 93 seventh-graders and 110 13-year-olds in the field. The majority of spellers (178) attend public schools, and the field will include two spellers who will be competing for the fifth time and five who will be competing for the fourth time. The youngest speller will be 8-year-old Tara Singh of Louisville, Ky.
Spellers from our region joining Keenan at the national bee will include Lillian Bischof, who attends St. Michael Parish School in Wheeling, and Justin Hamilton, who attends Union Local Middle School in Belmont.
The discipline and dedication it takes to advance to the national spelling bee are skills that will serve participants well in their adult lives.
With that in mind, we congratulate Nathan Keenan and wish him well as he competes in the national spelling bee.