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Spelling Showdown: The Wisconsin champs and how to watch the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee

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Posted at 9:19 AM, May 13, 2024

Bee Week 2024 will take place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. On May 26, more than 200 spellers from across the country and around the world will arrive in the Washington, D.C., area.

Millions of students participated in more than 20,000 school spelling bees, but only 245 made it to the national competition.

The Scripps Cup
The Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy is seen on the stage ahead of the first round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

They hope to be the final speller on stage with the honor of holding the Scripps Cup, the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy. For the spellers, Bee Week includes much more than three days of a nationally-televised competition.

A National Legacy

It's one of the biggest academic competitions in the world. Founded in 1925, the Scripps National Spelling Bee continues its tradition as the nation's largest and longest-running education program. Spellers from across the globe will compete at the end of May.

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Aiden and Nethraa will represent Wisconsin at the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The best of the best will descend on National Harbor, Maryland for Bee Week. The elite spellers will take the stage to compete against the dictionary for the title of Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion.

Two regional champions from Wisconsin will participate in the national competition. Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya of Middleton and runner-up Nethraa Muthupandiyaraja of Franklin were the best of the bunch at the March 16 Badger State Spelling Bee.

Nethraa, an eighth grader from Forest Park Middle School, made her first appearance at the national competition. She made it all the way to the fourth round, but couldn't correctly spell the word "hamelia."

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Nethraa Muthupandiyaraja of Franklin holds her second-place trophy from the 2024 Badger State Spelling Bee.

How to Watch

ION is the official television home of the Scripps National Spelling Bee! ION Plus is the streaming home for live coverage of every round, including the Preliminaries, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals. The Semifinals and Finals will also air in prime time on ION. The two-night event begins with the Semifinals on May 29 at 7 pm, followed by the Finals LIVE on May 30 at 7 pm.

Scripps National Spelling Bee Schedule 2024
Scripps National Spelling Bee Schedule May 2024

You can watch ION for free on over-the-air channel 55.1 in the Milwaukee area. ION is also free on most cable, satellite, and streaming providers.

Bee Format

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is not your average academic competition. Spellers have been preparing for more than eight months to make it to the national stage. They were prepped with word lists, and vocabulary questions for the contest. The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary is the final authority and only source for the competition words. The contestants, pronouncers, and judges must follow the Contest Rules of the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Contest Rules of the 2024 S... by TMJ4 News

Journey to the Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee program is open to students who have neither turned 16 nor passed beyond the eighth grade, and who attend schools that are officially enrolled with the program for the current academic year.

Each year, a team from Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Scripps National Spelling Bee releases 4,000 words to unsuspecting spellers.

The process starts in the fall when dedicated teachers and generous regional partners use the words in spelling bees. Classroom winners compete for grade-level titles, and grade-level winners compete for school titles, where there are more than 20,000 school champions each year. Those school champion spellers move on to the regional competitions in February and March. The regional champions are declared and participate in the national competition.

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On May 30, the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion will be crowned!

In April, the regional champs are emailed study materials for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

What is Bee Week?

Bee Week is a week of enrichment and competition for the spellers, resulting in a live television broadcast just outside Washington, D.C., where students prove their spelling prowess until a national champion is selected.

Scripps National Spelling Bee Stage 2023
Opal Mishra, 12, from Chandler, Ariz., competes during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Spellers will compete in the Preliminaries on May 28. The Quarterfinals and Semifinals are on May 29 with the Finals on May 30.

It's not all about game faces, spellers, and their families have a lot of fun at Bee Week. There is a book fair, photo booth, and spell-offs outside the main competition. It's also an opportunity for spellers to share their skills beyond the dictionary like martial arts or speed cube solving.

One Wisconsin Winner

Lagatta Mathew Wallace Bush
President George Bush meets with winners of the National Spelling Bee at the White House, May 31, 1991, including 13-year-old winner Joanne Lagatta, left, of Clintonville, Wisc., Maria Mathew, 11, of Sterling, Ill., and Todd Wallace, 13, of Blackfoot, Idaho. Boy at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

Only one person from Wisconsin has won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Joanne Lagatta of Clintonville won the national title in 1991 by correctly spelling “antipyretic.” Dr. Joanne Lagatta recalled her big win for TMJ4 back in 2017.


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