UK Happenings

Students compete at College of Education Big Blue Bee March 2 

Photo provided by Scripps National Spelling Bee.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 28, 2024) — Experience a spelling bee’s jitters and excitement first-hand in Lexington this weekend at the University of Kentucky College of Education’s Big Blue Bee.  

The public is invited to cheer on school spelling bee champions in first through eighth grade as they compete for the regional title. The winner advances to the 2024 Scripps Cup national competition in Washington, D.C. this May. 

The Big Blue Bee takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center. The event is free, but requires a ticket, available online. 

In addition to more than 30 students from across Central Kentucky, the Big Blue Bee will feature: 

  • Emcee: Larry Smith, anchor, LEX18 News 
  • Pronouncer: Christopher Reese, director of educator preparation, UK College of Education 
  • Head Judge: Sydney DeLong, executive producer, LEX 18 News 
  • Judge: Margaret Rintamaa, Ed.D., associate dean, UK College of Education 
  • Judge: Jacqueline Hamilton, Ed.D., English professor, Eastern Kentucky University 
  • Manual Recorder: Melissa McCaughan, student affairs officer, UK College of Education 
  • Audio Recorder: Zitsi Mirakhur, Ph.D., assistant professor, UK College of Education 

The Big Blue Bee is among the events taking place this academic year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the UK College of Education, established in 1923. The Scripps National Spelling Bee began just two years later, in 1925.  

“This inaugural spelling bee will be a memorable event as we celebrate the impact of our college during its 100th anniversary. We hope the Big Blue Bee will produce the next national champion from the University of Kentucky,” said UK College of Education Acting Dean Danelle Stevens-Watkins, Ph.D., who is also UK associate vice president for research (equity) and a professor of counseling psychology.  

For more information about the Big Blue Bee, contact Mariama Lockington, research administrative coordinator in the UK College of Education Office of Clinical Preparation and Partnerships, at 

In addition to the spelling bee, the public is invited to celebrate the College of Education’s 100th anniversary at the Big Blue Bash on Saturday, April 20. The celebration will feature entertainment by the Coach Mitchell Band, fronted by former UK Women’s Basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell. Funds raised from a silent auction, to include artwork and Kentucky collectibles, will support the Centennial Scholarship Fund. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.