Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2007

County coordinator relieved with news reversing statewide bee’s cancellation

January 11, 2007

There will be a Kansas state spelling bee, after all.

In an e-mail and follow-up letter via U.S. mail to county spelling bee coordinators across Kansas, the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper said it had reversed course and would conduct the statewide bee again this year for county spelling bee champions from across Kansas.

Priscilla LoPresti, chairwoman of the Leavenworth County Spelling Bee, greeted the news with joy. It means the winner of the Leavenworth County Spelling Bee on Feb. 2 will be able to compete in Topeka for a chance to vie in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

"I'm happy beyond belief," she said.

Back in November, the Capital-Journal told county bee coordinators it was ending its 53-year sponsorship of a statewide bee in favor of one catering to students in the paper's 26-county readership area. Leavenworth County was not among the 26 counties in the newspaper's readership area.

To ensure the Leavenworth County spelling bee champion wasn't left out in the cold, LoPresti set out to find an alternative regional competition in which the champ could compete for the right to go to the national bee.

Her hunt was not yielding much success.

"I can barely find a regional bee, let alone one that will take us," LoPresti had said at the time.

Terri Benson, marketing manager for the Capital-Journal, could not be reached for comment, but she told Harris News Service the newspaper changed its mind about playing host to the statewide bee at the request of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

LoPresti theorized the Capital-Journal reconsidered its decision, in part, because of timing issues.

"They didn't give us (county coordinators) much time to do anything when they notified us in November," LoPresti said.

The future of a statewide spelling bee beyond this year, though, could be tenuous. LoPresti said correspondence from the Capital-Journal indicated the newspaper would be reassessing the statewide bee after the 2007 bee.

"I think it's only a one-year reprieve," LoPresti said.

Benson had said earlier that it costs the Capital-Journal about $3,500 annually to conduct the statewide bee. The largest expense, she said, was the cost of sending the state champion and his or her adult sponsor to Washington, D.C., for a week during the national bee.

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