For almost a century, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has been a stirring tribute to America's youth, their intelligence and the hope for the future each correctly spelled word brings. And while that may seem to be overstating the bee's importance, there is no doubting the hold the competition has over Americans — even ESPN covers the event, which runs through this week. So PULSE looks at why this annual rite of passage is so captivating, and how one of the champions has handled the fame that came with her championship.
For almost a century, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has been a stirring tribute to America's youth, their intelligence and the hope for the future each correctly spelled word brings. And while that may seem to be overstating the bee's importance, there is no doubting the hold the competition has over Americans — even ESPN covers the event, which runs through this week.
So PULSE looks at why this annual rite of passage is so captivating, and how one of the champions has handled the fame that came with her championship.
A 'NERD ROLE MODEL' GROWS UP
Of the 85 kids who have won the National Spelling Bee, only one became an instant movie star. For the millions who watched back in 1999, her face is frozen in time. She’ll always be the 14-year-old girl from Tampa, Fla., with the glasses and dark shoulder-length hair, her arms raised while leaping for joy. But that was a half-life ago for Nupur Lala. Like all bee winners, she’s since had to deal with the perks, drawbacks and stereotypes that come with the title. That’s been magnified because the year she won the bee, movie makers were shooting a documentary about the competition. The Oscar-nominated documentary was released in 2002. READ MORE HERE
'IT DEFINITELY CHANGES EVERYTHING'
Jae Canetti said he screamed “No!” when he learned the National Spelling Bee would be introducing a vocabulary test. He started changing the way he prepared, studying definitions of words on the bus ride to school each day. At least the extra work appeared to have paid off. When the 11-year-old from Fairfax, Va., took the test Tuesday morning, he felt he did just fine. “I knew a lot of the words,” Jae said. “It definitely was not, like, painstaking.” READ MORE HERE
CAN YOU FIND THE MEANING?
The Scripps National Spelling Bee announced a momentous change to its time-honored format: Starting this year, multiple-choice vocabulary tests will become part of the competition. In other words, contestants must also know the meanings of the words they spell. While critics of rote memorization high-fived, traditionalists objected — largely on the grounds that the change will make the contest too darn hard. Do they have a point? Read on. Below are the five most recent winning words and the efforts of local notables to define them. READ MORE HERE
AS YEARS GO BY
For an academic contest pitting young spellers against the dictionary, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has taken on the intensity of the fiercest athletic events. Feeling the warmth of television lights — not to mention nerves and distractions — all while sports commentators are analyzing your "style" and approach is something only a select club of young word-nerdy Americans gets to experience. How does that early experience affect these mostly middle-school-aged kids later in life? READ MORE HERE
May 26-June 1, 2013 - The 86th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will be held.
Fourteen year old Snigdha Nandipati, an eighth grader from San Diego, California is the 2012 winner. Snigdha 's winning word was guetapens, a word meaning ambush, snare or trap.
Contestants must not be over 15 and in the eighth grade or younger.
Winning words have included: Laodicean, luge, therapy, croissant, milieu, lyceum, kamikaze, antediluvian, chiaroscurist, logorrhea, Purim, and knack.
The 2012 champion of the spelling bee won:
From the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a $30,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy.
From Merriam-Webster, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a reference library.
From Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, a $5,000 scholarship.
From Encyclopædia Britannica, $2,600 worth of reference works, including the Final Print Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium.
From Middlebury Interactive Languages, an online language course and a Nook Color.
1925 - The Louisville Courier-Journal starts the event with nine contestants. Frank Neuhauser is the first winner, after spelling gladiolus correctly.
1941 - Scripps Howard assumes sponsorship of the program.
1943-1945 - There is no National Spelling Bee due to World War II.
There were co-champions in 1950, 1957, and 1962.