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North Idaho Spelling Bee returns Feb. 10

| February 3, 2024 1:00 AM

Word wizards and phonetics fans, rejoice.

The North Idaho Spelling Bee will return to North Idaho College's Schuler Performing Arts Center at 10 a.m. Feb. 10.

The public is welcome to attend this final competition that will determine who from North Idaho will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which takes place May 28 to June 1 in Washington, D.C.

The top speller will receive an all-expense paid trip with a guardian to compete in the National Spelling Bee and vie for its $50,000 cash champion’s prize. If the second-place contestant makes it to the 15th round in the North Idaho bee, that speller will also win an all-expense paid trip with a guardian for a chance to compete at the National Spelling Bee.

The winner of the North Idaho Spelling Bee will receive a $1,000 cash prize from the Idaho Character Foundation and a gold trophy. Second place will receive a silver trophy. Spellers who qualify to compete nationally will also receive a 2024 United States Mint proof set and a year’s online subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica and Webster’s Dictionary.

The sponsor of the local bee is the Idaho Character Foundation, led by Dan and Kathryn Pinkerton. The Coeur d’Alene School District and Deputy Superintendent Michael Nelson will oversee the event. 

NIC has generously donated staff, judges and the use of Schuler Performing Arts Center.

The Idaho Character Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes character excellence throughout the community, signed an agreement with the Scripps National Spelling Bee to indefinitely sponsor the same five northern counties the Coeur d’Alene Press and NIC sponsored for 18 years. That agreement includes the Idaho Character Foundation paying for all prizes, including the trips to the National Spelling Bee. 

"Participating in the local spelling bees helps encourage so many excellent character traits such as diligence, attentiveness, decisiveness, determination, humility, orderliness and thoroughness," Dan Pinkerton said in a Friday news release. "All of these are important for success in life, as character determines success.”

Nelson anticipates approximately 40 students from North Idaho will compete in the North Idaho Spelling Bee — double the number of participants from two years ago.

“We are very pleased that our fourth- to eighth-grade students from the five northern counties will again have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the National Spelling Bee,” Nelson said. “We’re very excited that this year we may be able to send two.”

Last year’s competition was won by Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy eighth grader Kayla Tenney Villalobos with Charter seventh grader Amiah Van Hill as second runner-up. Amiah will return to the North Idaho Spelling Bee as an eighth grader this year.