The fourth annual spelling bee will be held Thursday, March 12, at Nyssa Elementary School, and is open to the public. (The Enterprise/File)

NYSSA – The annual Malheur County Spelling Bee is a big deal around here.

It is a way for local students to compete in an academic setting, and a lot of time and energy goes into preparing for it. 

The fourth annual spelling bee will be held Thursday, March 12, at Nyssa Elementary School, and is open to the public.

The opening ceremony begins at 8 a.m., and the spelling contest runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The competition is open to first- through eighth-grade students from any school in the county.

After the top spellers from each grade level are determined, the winner qualifies to represent Malheur County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Last year was the first year that the school was able to fund the trip to Washington.

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Cadi Corn, now a seventh-grader from Nyssa Middle School, was last year’s local spelling bee winner. Accompanied by her parents, she traveled to the East Coast for the national competition, where she placed in the top 200.

Corn also won the local spelling bee the year before and was placed in a random drawing for a chance to go to the national bee, but wasn’t chosen.

Matt Murray, principal of Nyssa Elementary, said he is proud to be able to offer students an academic competition.

“I love sports,” Murray said. “But obviously we think academics are important, more important than sports in the long run. And so we are just glad to be able to offer something kids can compete in academically.”

He said it’s good to see “a lot of excitement about something academic.”

Murray said that both students and teachers work hard to prepare for the local competition, and for a chance to represent the county at the national bee. Each school is in charge of coaching its best spellers.

He said Scripps provides the official list of spelling words tailored for each grade level, as well as recommended rules. The list and rules are distributed to schools across the county to make the competition fair, he said.

The money to send the local winner to the national bee is raised by donations, Murray said. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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