STEUBENVILLE - The valley is abuzz with students, organizers and sponsors getting ready for the 2014 Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee, scheduled for 1 p.m. March 8 at Buckeye North Elementary School in Brilliant.
The area's best spellers have already finished in the top spots at previous bees held by Steubenville City, Indian Creek Local, Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Toronto City and Harrison Hills school districts, and this is their chance to compete for a spot representing the Ohio Valley in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee, set for May 25 to May 31 in Washington, D.C.
The eight top finishers from each school district will participate, and two alternates have also been selected for each district.
READY FOR BEE — Organizers are preparing for the 2014 Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee, which is set for 1 p.m. March 8 at Buckeye North Elementary School in Brilliant. The winner will travel to Washington, D.C., from May 25 to May 31 to compete in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Among those planning the event are, from left, front, Lisa Quattrochi, vice president and senior community development manager at Huntington Bank; and Ann Koon, director of public information for Eastern Gateway Community College; and back, Ross Gallabrese, executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times; Jim Baber, executive vice president at Eastern Gateway Community College and president of the Steubenville Rotary Club; and Ron Sismondo of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, chairman of the bee this year. -- Shae Dalrymple
Major sponsors for the bee this year include the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, Eastern Gateway Community College, Huntington Bank, the Steubenville Rotary Club, the Ohio Lottery, Amtrak and Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel of Wheeling.
The winner of the regional bee will receive a Webster's Third New International Dictionary courtesy of Merriam-Webster; a trophy; a one-year online membership donated by Encyclopaedia Britannica; a $250 gift certificate from Huntington Bank; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a 2014 United States Mint Proof Set donated by Jay Sugarman, CEO of iStar Financial; and an expenses-paid trip to Washington for the National Bee courtesy of the Herald-Star. The top 10 regional finishers will receive trophies from the Herald-Star and gift certificates in various amounts from Huntington Bank. Third- through fifth-place finishers will also receive Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus, and the second-place finisher will receive Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, courtesy of Merriam-Webster Inc.
The Ohio Lottery has paid the entrance fees for each of the schools that participated this year. Travel to the National Bee is courtesy of Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel and Amtrak.
Local organizers are looking forward to the bee, which started in 1985.
"The time-honored spelling bee is a great institution that recognizes the academics and study diligence of hundreds of students in Jefferson County and across the nation. Eastern Gateway takes pride in helping to sponsor this annual competition and wishes all participants the best in the various bees in the area," said Ann Koon, director of public information for EGCC.
Ron Sismondo of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, chairman of the bee this year, agreed that the event benefits the students most.
"It's just a good experience for Jefferson and Harrison County students. It gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents and knowledge of spelling," he said. "We really appreciate the Herald-Star and the other sponsors that make it possible."
"We're happy to be able to continue to offer the spelling bee program to pupils in Jefferson and Harrison counties," Ross Gallabrese, executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, commented.
"Thanks to the help of our sponsors and the outstanding support of everyone at the educational service center, our spelling bee remains one of the top academic competitions in the area."
"I think it's an excellent opportunity to encourage young people, because spelling is becoming a lost art," said Jim Baber, executive vice president at EGCC and president of the Steubenville Rotary Club. "I'm glad to be a part of something so good for the kids."
Lisa Quattrochi, vice president and senior community development manager at Huntington Bank, said Huntington is happy to use its 13 Ohio Valley branches to better the community.
"Taking care of our community is not only the right thing to do, it's the best thing we do," she said. "We're happy to support the spelling bee again this year. We know that education is such an important part of the success of our communities. When Huntington gets behind a program that works, we stay with it. We have a long history of supporting the spelling bee and other educational programs in the Ohio Valley, including Junior Achievement Financial Education programs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest and supporting the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. We are not only committed to providing the highest quality products and services in our communities, we are committed to enhancing the quality of life in those communities."
Regional bee judges this year will include Stephen Criniti and Jeremy Larance, both of West Liberty University, and Connie Salvayon of EGCC. The recorder will be David Schaefer of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the pronouncer will be Mary Ann Zeroski, a retired Buckeye Local teacher, with Paula Diorio, a retired Catholic Central High School teacher, serving as assistant pronouncer.