Scripps Spelling Bee: 87 years later, still spelling strong

CINCINNATI -- In 1925, nine youngsters took the stage to prove their knowledge after studying day-in and day-out to become champions.

Eighty-seven years later, the National Spelling Bee continues to celebrate some of the best spellers in the country. 

The E.W. Scripps Company took over production of the National Spelling Bee in 1944. Since then, the competition has grown immensely. Starting with just nine competitors, there are now millions across the nation.

"This year we will have about 11 million students who will participate, so it's grown a great deal," Chris Kemper of Scripps said.

The Bee has been a force in the academic world. It's the largest and longest standing education program in the U.S. and it begins right here in the heart of Cincinnati.

"And a lot of Cincinnatians don't realize it's based right here, in downtown Cincinnati," Kemper said. The "Bee hive" at the E.W. Scripps Building has nine people working year-round to ensure the Bee is a big success.

After working for months, the time has come. WCPO 9 On Your Side will host the regional bee on Saturday, with 125 participants from Northern Kentucky, Southeastern Indiana and Southwestern Ohio. Two winners will move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

"I think the Scripps National Spelling Bee should be a point of pride for all Cincinnatians," Kemper said. "The fact that it's headquartered here. The fact that it speaks to our passion for literacy, for words, for vocabulary, for spelling. Those are all Cincinnati." 

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