State’s super spellers set for bee at Oak Mountain
By AMY JONES / Associate Editor
NORTH SHELBY — The state’s best spellers — 64 students culled from 788 schools — will gather at Oak Mountain High School March 6 to see who reigns supreme.
The contestants, who range in age from second to eighth grades, will compete for the chance to represent Alabama at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, to be held from May 26-June 1 near Washington D.C.
Alabama Spelling Bee Coordinator Susan McDougal said every bee contestant has already been a winner several times over.
“To get to the Alabama Spelling Bee is a huge accomplishment. By the time they get to us, they’ve been through a classroom bee, a school bee, a district bee and a county bee,” she said. “Those kids are very well-accomplished and very bright. There are hundreds of schools in the state, so to get from that down to (64) kids is amazing.”
McDougal said the Alabama bee has been at Oak Mountain for the past few years because of the school’s optimal location.
“It’s centrally located within the state and very easy to get to,” she said. “Even people that come from the far reaches of the state can get there very easily.”
McDougal also works at Adventure Travel, a Shelby County-based travel business that sponsors the Alabama Spelling Bee. Adventure Travel became the bee’s sponsor after the Birmingham News stopped sponsoring it about five years ago, McDougal said.
“We wanted to continue to support the community, especially with our headquarters in Shelby County,” she said. “We thought it was very important for the students of Alabama, and we did not want it to go away.”
The bee is important for Shelby County tourism, as it brings dollars into the county from people traveling to watch the event. Alabama Spelling Bee organizers work with local businesses to offer special deals for contestants and their families so they can see the metro Birmingham area, and local hotels and restaurants benefit as well, McDougal said.
“Even if they don’t stay the night, they do go to the restaurants (in the area),” she said.
Adventure Travel will pay for airfare, meals and a hotel stay for the Alabama Spelling Bee winner and his or her guardian to go to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The March 6 event at Oak Mountain is open to the public.
“We would love the public to come watch,” McDougal said. “It’s free, and it’s a very exciting event. It’s a nail-biter.”
For more information about the Alabama Spelling Bee, visit Adtrav.com/bee. To find out more about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, visit Spellingbee.com.