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Spelling Bee makes its way to Hays





Hays is the site of many a state event during the year, especially during a four-week stretch in February and March. So how about another one?

The Hays Daily News 2013 Sunflower Spelling Bee will be held on March 2 in Sheridan Hall's Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center at Fort Hays State University. The winner will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26 to June 1 in Washington.

The Hays Daily News and FHSU are partnering in bringing to Hays the Sunflower Bee, previously held in Great Bend. The Great Bend Tribune had been in charge of the bee the past five years after the Topeka Daily Capital-Journal opted for a regional competition only for its 26-county area instead of the statewide bee for winners from all Kansas counties.

Thus, the Sunflower Spelling Bee was born and was held in Great Bend until the HDN agreed to bring it to Hays.

"When Great Bend reached out to see if we would be interested in hosting the spelling bee, I was honored," said Patrick Lowry, HDN editor and publisher. "Newspapers are always looking for ways to promote both student achievement as well as the community."

"Hays is an ideal location for an event this size -- and we anticipate the 2013 Sunflower Spelling Bee to be an enormous success," Lowry added.

The Sunflower Spelling Bee will be the second of four state events held on consecutive weekends on the FHSU campus in early 2013. The Class 3-2-1A State Wrestling Championships are set for Feb. 22 to 23, followed by the spelling bee the first weekend of March. The Class 1A, Division State Basketball Championships is scheduled for March 6 to 9, followed by the Special Olympics Kansas Basketball Tournament March 14 to 16.

"Fort Hays State University was a natural partner," Lowry said of the Sunflower Spelling Bee. "Not only are they providing the venue and students to help the bee go smoothly, it's an opportunity for future college students to check out the campus."

Jan Tinkel, business manager at the HDN, agreed.

"Partnering with Fort Hays will give them a chance to showcase the college to many counties that may have never been exposed to the college," said adding that the Sunflower Bee will include the winners of a possible 75 county winners. At least one other regional bee will be held in the eastern part of the state.

Schools must be registered with E.W. Scripps online, the national organization.

Teachers and/or administrators from schools in the 75-county region for the Sunflower Spelling Bee -- all of Kansas with the exception of 30 counties in the eastern part of the state -- can register online for $115 at www.spellingbee.com. That fee includes study words for students, pronouncer guides, rules a foreign language course, Encyclopedia Britannica online and key information about local spelling bee program. Registration deadline is Oct. 15.

"I have had the opportunity to visit with schools and other associates of the spelling bee and have been greeted with much enthusiasm about the project," Tinkel said.

Omicron Delta Kappa, a student service and leadership organization at FHSU, is helping with the Sunflower bee.

"It will be a learning experience for us, as the well as the students studying and participating," Tinkel said. "We are pleased to play a role in the education of our youth."