Campus News

First Amendment Center to Host National Spelling Bee Semifinal

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2012) — The Scripps Howard First Amendment Center in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications will host the University of Kentucky Spelling Bee, a semifinal round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee for winners from schools in 63 Kentucky counties, in Spring 2013.

KyForward, media sponsor for the event, will join as co-host for this qualifying round for the national bee. The UK College of Education is assisting in the effort by helping to publicize the bee to schools in the UK coverage area, through its P20 Innovation Lab.

"Spelling is such a critical part of learning to write and speak correctly," said Mike Farrell, associate professor of journalism and director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, who is the UK bee coordinator. "I have always loved words, how they’re formed and how they’re used, despite the fact I missed 'pharaoh' in the fifth grade spelling bee at my school. The bee gives students a real opportunity to grow their vocabulary, their study skills and their self-confidence."

"The spelling bee is simply a part of the national fabric, and Kentucky students should have a chance to participate," said Judy Clabes, editor and publisher of KyForward. "For me, it's 'back to the future,' as one of my first assignments in 36 years with Scripps was running the spelling bee for The Evansville Press. I know firsthand what a quality experience it is for the students who participate, and what a thrill the trip to D.C. is for the regional champion. National Spelling Bee week in D.C. is an unforgettable adventure."

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is open to students in public, private, parochial, charter, virtual and home schools. Students who are younger than 16 and in the eighth grade or lower grades are eligible. To participate in the semifinal round at UK, students must attend a school officially enrolled in the National Spelling Bee Program for the 2012-13 academic year and must have won their school’s bee. Schools can enroll in the bee online at

Winners from the semifinal bee rounds compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C. The championship round of the bee is broadcast on ESPN. The University of Kentucky Spelling Bee winner and a parent receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the national bee, as well as other prizes. Bee Week 2013 is May 26-June 1.

The UK bee is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23. (Snow date March 2.) All participants in the UK round will receive a gift bag with donations from area businesses.

"Hosting a qualifying competition for the Scripps National Spelling Bee is a natural fit for a journalism program," said Beth E. Barnes, director of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications. "We look forward to helping make the spellers’ time on campus memorable. We hope to welcome spellers from many schools in our coverage area."

The mission of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky is to promote understanding of the First Amendment among citizens of Kentucky, to advocate for First Amendment rights in the Commonwealth and nationally, and to produce internationally recognized scholarship concerning the First Amendment and its related freedoms.

The Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab in the UK College of Education’s mission is to create, develop and apply new knowledge to address the most critical education issues of our time, locally and globally, in partnership with our students, education colleagues, and individuals and institutions with an interest in innovating our collective educational future.

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 local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. Department of Defense Schools in Europe; as well as the Bahamas, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea. The purpose of the bee is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

Counties in the UK bee area are: Adair, Anderson, Barren, Bath, Bell, Bourbon, Boyd, Boyle, Breathitt, Breckinridge, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Estill, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Garrard, Greenup, Hancock, Harlan, Harrison, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, Livingston, Lyon, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Mason, McCreary, Menifee, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Owen, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Scott, Washington, Wayne, Whitley, Wolfe and Woodford. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, (859) 323-2396;