A large group of our area's brightest young men and women had the opportunity to put their knowledge and poise on display Saturday during the annual Herald-Star, Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee.
The event, which was held in the auditorium at Buckeye North Elementary School in Brilliant, lasted for nearly two hours and included some tense moments as participants spelled their words. The competition finally came to an end when Nathan Keenan, an eighth-grader at Toronto Junior-Senior High School, correctly spelled the word "impunity" to earn his win.
As a result, Keenan, the son of James and Jeanine Keenan of Toronto, will advance to the Scripps National Bee in the Washington, D.C., suburb of National Harbor, Md. The annual event will be held as a part of Bee Week, which begins May 25.
His win Saturday means that Keenan will represent our area in the national bee for the second consecutive year.
Saturday's bee marked the end of a local competition that started shortly after pupils returned to school last August. The top finishers in room bees advanced to building bees.
The top finishers in the building bees advanced to district bees, where the top finishers earned their spots in this year's regional bee.
The Herald-Star has sponsored the regional bee since 1985. Joining us to make this year's event possible were Eastern Gateway Community College, the Steubenville Rotary Club, Huntington Bank, Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel of Wheeling and Amtrak. State and national sponsors include the Ohio Lottery Commission, Encyclopaedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster.
Our local bee is a success because of the support of those sponsors and the hard work of area educators and administrators, and the staff at the Eastern Ohio Educational Service Center under the direction of Ron Sismondo, the program coordinator.
The purpose of the national bee program, according to its sponsor, the E.W. Scripps Co., is to help young people improve their spelling skills, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage. Those skills will help the pupils all of their lives.
More than 10 million young men and women participate in the bee program each year, Scripps reports. Of those, only about 200 advance to national bee. Keenan will be one of them, and we wish him well in that competition.