Multiple Milestones Mark 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Wed, May 20, 2009 by Tim King

The 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee will mark several milestones: the largest field of competitors, an additional opportunity to spell onstage, and a new use of technology.

When Bee Week kicks off Sunday, May 24, the Scripps National Spelling Bee will welcome 293 spelling champions to the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee - and will begin tweeting on

Twitter is just one of the ways to keep up to date on the competition. Nationwide, viewers can tune into the Bee's live broadcasts:

  • will air Round Three of the Preliminaries from 1:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27.
  • ESPN will broadcast the Semifinals Thursday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to
    1 p.m. EDT. SportsCenter Anchor Chris McKendry will host the ESPN broadcast.
  • The ABC Television Network will provide coverage of the championship rounds Thursday, May 28, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT.  Emmy Award-winning television personality Tom Bergeron will host the ABC broadcast.

Bee Week

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the culmination of months - and often years - of preparation. Thirty percent of the spellers have competed in the Bee previously or have family members who have competed in the Bee. All of the spellers have qualified to compete in the Bee by winning locally sponsored spelling bees in their home communities.

The first day of competition for the Bee begins Tuesday, May 26, at the Grand Hyatt Washington. For the second year the Bee will utilize a 50-word computerized test for Round One of the Preliminaries.

New this year, each speller will have the opportunity to spell onstage twice during the preliminaries on Wednesday, May 27. Previously, spellers had only one opportunity to spell onstage during the Preliminaries. For 2009, the spellers with the best results in the Preliminaries will qualify for the Semifinals on Thursday, May 28.

Facts about the spellers:

  • Spellers hail from across the United States and from Europe, Guam, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, American Samoa, Ghana, South Korea, Canada and New Zealand.
  • English is not the first language of 33 spellers. In the homes of 168 spellers, languages other than English are spoken.
  • Spellers speak more than 30 languages and dialects from Ukrainian to Arabic to Chinese.
  • Spellers range in age from 9 to 15 years old; two-thirds are either 13 or 14 years old.

Additional information about the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee can be found online at

About the Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation's largest and longest-running educational promotion, administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and 287 local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, New Zealand, and South Korea. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives.

About Scripps

The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP) is a diverse, 130-year-old media enterprise with interests in television stations, newspapers, local news and information Web sites, and licensing and syndication. The company's portfolio of locally focused media properties includes: 10 TV stations (six ABC affiliates, three NBC affiliates and one independent); daily and community newspapers in 14 markets and the Washington, D.C.-based Scripps Media Center, home of the Scripps Howard News Service; and United Media, the licensor and syndicator of Peanuts, Dilbert and approximately 150 other features and comics. For a full listing of Scripps media companies and their associated Web sites, visit

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