TDT Spelling Bee

The final two from 50 Spelling Bee entrants were Aditi Bhat of South Belton Middle School at left and Isaac Searle of Providence Preparatory at right.

Fans of the 350,000 words in the English language can celebrate its variety at the Temple Daily Telegram’s 88th annual Bell County Spelling Bee on Saturday.

The bee will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the Temple College Pavilion. The event will not be televised.

As in previous years, Temple College professor D. Kirkland will pronounce the words for the contestants. Meg Chamlee Pitrucha, Leigh Gardner and Linda Barnes will be the judges.

The Telegram sponsors the Spelling Bee annually for middle school students across Bell County, whether in public, private, charter or home schools.

Kirkland noted that competing in the Spelling Bee can have a deep impact on a young student.

“It’s such a good experience for them educationally, to learn not only to spell but to learn how to compete and learn how to present themselves in public,” she said. “It probably makes a difference in their lives that they don’t know — it emerges later in life.”

Circulation manager Mike Hicks said the competition will be challenging.

“I know one student last year told me they study every day — they practice words every day,” he said. “Some of the words in the list, they’re tough.”

Hicks oversaw the application process. This year, the competition will have 40 competitors from 11 schools. Last year, the bee had 42 contestants.

The word list comes from the University Interscholastic League. Kirkland said that the words are difficult even for her.

“I actually sit on my loveseat and practice saying them out loud,” she said. “Sometimes I use the dictionary only that has a pronunciation guide, just to be sure that I’ve interpreted the pronunciation correctly.”

The top three contestants in the Spelling Bee will take home cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50.