Do private schools compete in the National Spelling Bee?

Despite living in an age of spell check and autocorrect, spelling is still taught in our public schools and private schools. This important skill is highlighted at the National Spelling Bee, held annually in May. Spelling Bees are usually associated with public schools, but do private schools also compete?

Yes, they do! While the majority of this year’s 285 contestants are indeed from public schools, almost 20% of them are from private schools, according to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  When you consider that more than 11 million students will participate in the competition, it’s not surprising that students come from all types of learning environments, including parochial schools, charter schools, home-school situations, and even one student from a virtual school!

Spelling Bees are a common occurrence in elementary and middle schools, and have numerous benefits for students. As you may have guessed, learning root words is a huge benefit for students, but beyond that, students learn how to define, pronounce, and use these words in sentences, providing valuable skills in comprehension. Plus, a spelling bee helps expand a student’s vocabulary. The supportive environment at the Spelling Bee is also a great way to instill a positive spirit of friendly competition in students, encouraging them to work harder and improve their skills. That spirit of competition is seen in the fact that nearly 25% of the participants have made appearances in the National Bee at least once before.

Students considering applying to private school can greatly benefit from spelling bees when it comes to preparing for the SSAT, a common requirement during the application process. This entrance exam includes a written section, as well as a reading and verbal comprehension section.

Scripps National Spelling Bee shares a few statistics about the contestants on their site. The gender split is almost event, but ages of this year’s participants range from 6 to 15 years old. Yes, that’s right, the youngest speller is 6 years old! There’s even one speller who is hearing impaired, and he made it to the third preliminary round today.

If you’ve been following Twitter, you can see the action tweeted live as contestants take on some of the most difficult words in the English language. Those who successfully spelled their words in the preliminary rounds today will move on to the final rounds taking place tomorrow. Good luck!

Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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4 thoughts on “Do private schools compete in the National Spelling Bee?”

  1. My kids are in private school and I have been thinking about enrolling them in the National Spelling Bee. However, I had no idea that 11 million students would be participating as well. Out of those 11 million, how many do you think will end up in the preliminary rounds?

    1. Hi Faylinn! The 11 million includes all students competing at their schools in spelling bees that lead to levels of qualification. This year, 285 made it to preliminaries. According to the official rules, only 50 spellers can make it past preliminary round three, which then sends spellers on the finals.

      Hope this helps!

  2. I had no idea that there was such a benefit for spelling as a result of spelling bees. I was never super interested in spelling when I was in school, but in the end it all worked out for me. I think the fact that so many people are still involved in it, even in private schools is great ! Thanks for the awesome information!

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