The Scripps National Spelling Bee (formerly the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee and commonly called the National Spelling Bee) is an annual spelling bee held in the United States. The bee is run on a not-for-profit basis by The E. W. Scripps Company and is held at a hotel or convention center in Washington, D.C. during the week following Memorial Day weekend.
Although most of its participants are from the U.S., students from countries such as The Bahamas, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Ghana, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico, and New Zealand have also competed in recent years. Historically, the competition has been open to, and remains open to, the winners of sponsored regional spelling bees in the U.S. Participants from countries other than the U.S. must be regional spelling-bee winners as well.
Contest participants cannot be older than fourteen as of August 31 of the year before the competition; nor can they be past the eighth grade as of February 1 of that year’s competition. Previous winners are also ineligible to compete.
The National Spelling Bee was formed in 1925 as a consolidation of numerous local spelling bees, organized by The Courier-Journal in Louisville. Frank Neuhauser won the first National Spelling Bee held that year, by successfully spelling “gladiolus“. the spelling bee has been held every year except for 1943–1945 due to World War II. Later, the E.W. Scripps Company acquired the rights to the program. The bee is held in late May and/or early June of each year. It is open to students who have not yet completed the eighth grade, reached their 15th birthday, nor won a previous National Spelling Bee. Its goal is educational: not only to encourage children to perfect the art of spelling, but also to help enlarge their vocabularies and widen their knowledge of the English language.
An insect bee is featured prominently on the logo of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, despite “bee” being unrelated to the name of the insect. “Bee” refers to “a gathering”, where people join together in an activity,. This sense of “bee” is related to the word “been”.
The 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 288 sponsors in the United States, Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Guam, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Ghana, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
Sponsorship is available on a limited basis to daily and weekly newspapers serving English-speaking populations around the world. Each sponsor organizes a spelling bee program in its community with the cooperation of area school officials: public, private, parochial, charter, virtual, and home schools.
Schools enroll with the national office to ensure their students are eligible to participate and to receive the materials needed to conduct classroom and school bees. During enrollment, school bee coordinators receive their local sponsor’s program-specific information—local dates, deadlines, and participation guidelines.
The champion of each sponsor’s final spelling bee advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, D.C.