I was putting together a summary of news highlights for the first three days of May and realized how much of it was lowlights: coveting, adultery, persecution, suicide, terror, yuck. So here’s some much-needed happy talk: The National Spelling Bee is coming, with the championship round scheduled to take place in Maryland (and televised on ESPN) on May 30.
One-third of this year’s 281 local champions are private- or homeschooled. Since journalists are supposed to show and not tell, you can draw your own conclusions about the ethnicity of champions from this list of the five national winners from 2008 to 2012: Sameer Mishra, Kavya Shivashankar, Anamika Veeramani, Sukanya Roy, and Snigdha Nandipati.
The words they spelled to win it all are impressive: guerdon, Laodicean, stromuhr, cymotrichous, and guetapens. But one of the most debated words is the simplest: bee, as in spelling bee or quilting bee. Students of language long thought the expression arose from humans aspiring to the industrious, social nature of a beehive, but some scholars now suggest that it comes from the Middle English word bene, related to prayer, as in benediction.
May God bless all of this year’s participants.