A large group gathered at Buckeye North Elementary School in Brilliant Saturday to watch this year's Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee. After more than an hour of competition and several hundred words were spelled, Nathan Keenan, a seventh-grader at Toronto High School, correctly spelled "segue," a noun meaning an immediate transition to the next part, to earn the victory.
As a result, Keenan, the son of and James and Jeanine Keenan of Toronto, will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held as part of Bee Week, May 26-June 1 in the Washington, D.C., suburb of National Harbor, Md.
Saturday's regional bee marked the end of a local competition that began shortly after pupils returned to school last fall. Top finishers in room bees advanced to building bees. The top finishers in the building bees earned the right to compete in bees held by each of our area's school districts - Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Harrison Hills City, Indian Creek Local, Steubenville City and Toronto City. Eight pupils from each of those districts, as well a home-schooled pupil, advanced to Saturday's event.
The Herald-Star has sponsored our area's competition since 1985. Joining us in helping to make this year's bee possible were Eastern Gateway Community College, the Rotary Club of Steubenville, Huntington Bank, Uniglobe Travel and Amtrak. State and national sponsors include the Ohio Lottery Commission, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Amazon and Merriam-Webster.
Their involvement shows that each of our sponsors values academic competition and is interested in improving the lives of our area's young people.
As it has from the beginning, the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, under the director of longtime area educator Joe Roshak, coordinated the competition.
According to the E.W. Scripps Co., sponsor the national bee, the program's purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.
The program attracts more than 10 million participants each year, Scripps says.
Keenan is one of about 200 who will have the opportunity to participate in this year's national bee.
We salute him and wish him well in that competition.