Local students compete in annual Scripps National Spelling Bee

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Several local elementary and middle school students are among the competitors in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

During the fall and winter, schools across the U.S. enroll in the Scripps Spelling Bee program and conduct their own spelling bee programs at the classroom, grade and school level. Their champions go on to compete against other winners in their area, in hopes of becoming the competitor to represent their local sponsor at the national bee.

A computer-based preliminary exam was held Tuesday, May 27, 2014. The second and third rounds of preliminaries were set for Wednesday, May 28, 2014. By the end of that day, semifinalists will be announced. Those semifinalists take computer-based tests that evening, followed by live semifinals Thursday, May 20 and finals that evening.

For 2014, 281 spellers will compete in the National Spelling Bee. The youngest competitor is eight years old, and the oldest is 15.

Eighteen competitors are sponsored by organizations in Illinois, and two are sponsored by organizations in Iowa.

These competitors are from the Quad Cities and surrounding areas or sponsored by organizations in our area:

Sophie Bergman is 14 and an eighth-grader at Morning Star Academy in Bettendorf, Iowa. She is sponsored by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus in Moline. This is her third time competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Anna Ackerman Snider is 14 and in 8th grade at Forrestville Valley Junior/Senior High School. She is sponsored by the The Telegraph in Dixon.

Kendra Leanne Scace is 11 and a sixth-grader at Stockton Middle School in Stockton. She is sponsored by the Carroll/Jo Daviess/Stephenson Regional Office of Education in Freeport.

Audrey Melton is 14 and an eighth-grader at St. Andrew Catholic Grade School in Rock Falls. She is sponsored by The Daily Gazette in Sterling.

Sibani S. Ram is 13 and in seventh grade at George Washington Middle School in Dubuque. She is sponsored by the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque.

The 2013 National Spelling Bee was won by Arvind Mahankali of New York, when he correctly spelled knaidel.

Balu Natarajan was the last Illinois competitor to win the National Spelling Bee, by spelling milieu correctly in 1985. John McKinney of Des Moines was the last Iowa competitor to win the National Bee when he correctly spelled semaphore in 1946. One other Illinois competitor and three other Iowa competitors have won the National Spelling Bee according to the National Spelling Bee website.