spelling bee

Zach Hansen, right, waits to learn if he spelled his word correctly during the annual Gallatin County spelling bee in Bozeman Saturday, as Diana Peyton, left, and Hannah Brauch look on in this 2011 file photo. The 2020 Treasure State Spelling Bee will be held at Montana State University this weekend, the first time in more than a decade the annual event will be held outside of Billings.

This just in... Gallatin County Superintendent of Schools Matthew Henry announced today that, due to the unfortunate outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, the 2020 Treasure State Spelling Bee scheduled for this Saturday, March 14, in Bozeman has been suspended until further notice.

---------------------------------------------

The 2020 Treasure State Spelling Bee will be held at Montana State University this weekend, the first time in more than a decade the annual event will be held outside of Billings.

Matthew Henry, Gallatin County superintendent of schools, said he offered to help put together the event in Bozeman after Lee Enterprises – the owner of several newspapers in Montana – chose not to sponsor the bee after having done so for many years. Under Lee’s sponsorship, the state contest was held annually at Rocky Mountain College in Billings.

Montana Television Network stepped up to sponsor this year’s event, and Henry said organizers are working hard to make Saturday’s event worthwhile and memorable for the contestants in the new venue.

“I think Bozeman is a nice location for it because it’s centrally located,” Henry said this week.

The event featuring 59 contestants from all over the state will begin at 1 p.m. in the SUB Ballroom on Saturday, March 14. Prior to the spell-off, competitors and their families will be treated to a luncheon featuring remarks by Q2 weather reporter Rob Griggs and winner of the 2019 state bee Clara Harmon, as well as video addresses by Montana’s U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and John Tester.

Chrysti the Wordsmith will be the pronouncer, and Belgrade School Board Chair Mary Ellen Fitzgerald will serve on the judges panel. Q2 news anchor Jay Kohn will moderate.

Saturday’s contestants earned their spots in the state bee based on their performances in school and countywide bees. Gallatin County will be represented by Amelia Henry, a home-schooled eighth-grader; Levi Rosner, an eighth-grader from Sacajawea Middle School in Bozeman; and Emma Williamson, a sixth-grader, also from Sacajawea.

The winner of Saturday’s contest will advance to the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland in May, and compete for a $50,000 top prize against fourth- through eighth-graders from all over the country. The national bee will be televised on ESPN.

Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Henry said all the students who qualified for the state competition deserve recognition.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” he said.