O-U-S-T-E-R is the word that a Missouri sixth grader spelled correctly to grab a spot in the upcoming national spelling bee. Mariah Coffey, of western Missouri’s Harrisonville, is one of seven Missouri students competing in the annual battle of the spelling brains.

“I’m studying really hard but I’m also really nervous about this,” she said. “I think it’ll be really intimidating because there’s a lot of smart people there that might be tough to compete with.”

The other Missouri students competing in the roughly 90-year tradition are from Columbia, Blue Springs, Farmington, Springfield, Trenton, and St. Louis. They are among the 231 spellers from around the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe who will be in the Washington, D.C. area to dazzle the crowd with their spelling knowledge. Spellers will also represent three countries outside the U.S.: The Bahamas, Canada, and Ghana.

“We study with the list they provide, which is a list of about 4,000 words,” Coffey said. “They also have an app called Word Club that I like to use.”

The competition will include spelling rounds and rounds requiring spellers to select the correct meaning of a word. For their participation, each speller will receive a variety of awards and prizes, depending on the level they reach.

The winner will take home the coveted Scripps Cup – the Bee’s national championship trophy.

Here is the national spelling bee schedule:
Preliminaries: Tuesday, May 30, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. CST on Ion Plus
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, May 31, 7 a.m. – 12 p.m CST on Ion Plus
Semifinals: Wednesday, May 31, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. CST on Ion

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