By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Whoever wins this year’s Eastern Oklahoma Spelling Bee gets not only an expense-paid trip to the National Bee in Washington, D.C., but $800 in cash.
However, the young speller will have to go against 139 others to get there.
This year’s bee, set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Muskogee Civic Center, promises to be the largest ever, said Susan Hoog, one of its organizers. She said spellers come from public schools and private schools; some are home-schooled.
“We’ve got half the state,” Hoog said. “Osage County, Bartlesville, Nowata, Miami, all the way down to Arkoma. Atoka, which is almost the Texas line. All the way to Drumright.”
Last year’s bee drew 110 contestants, Hoog said, adding that the bee has been recognized in Washington as one of the largest spelling bees in the world competition.
The master of ceremonies will be Erin Christy, a reporter and producer for the nightly news magazine “The List,” which is televised locally on KJRH.
“She’s passionate about the bee,” Hoog said.
Special District Judge Robin Adair will be the word pronouncer for the bee. The judges will be Matt White, Cheryl Whalen, Missy Chandler, Vivian Loving and Cassandra Gaines. Hoog said this will be the first year for the winner to receive a cash prize.
The bee also has stirred interest — and memories, Hoog said.
“Seems wherever we go people are saying: ‘I was in the spelling bee. I remember the word I misspelled,” Hoog said. “People are ready to emphasize academics. To write a beautiful song, to write a book, you have to know how to spell correctly.”
The Eastern Oklahoma Spelling Bee already has a winner.
Brodie Gussert, a seventh-grader at Haskell’s E.W. Beavers Middle School, beat 127 other entrants in the bee’s poster contest. His red-shirted bee will cheer people on from this year’s spelling bee posters and promotional material.
Brodie described the poster bee’s expression as “just like victory.”
Hoog said the bee art show had 128 entries this year, nearly three times as many entries as last year.
Brodie said: “I’m pretty happy about it. I tried pretty hard on this contest, and I had a lot of time to work on it. I did my best.”
Brodie said he had entered other contests but never won. He’ll keep at it.
“I enter any contest I can get my hands on and can draw a picture for,” he said.
His mother, DeeAnn Gussert, said Brodie had been drawing “almost since he could hold something in his hand.”
“When he was a little kid, he’d give me a card,” she said. “He’s very artistic, very creative. He even started getting into computer animation.”
The second-place winner in the poster contest is Anna Blankenship of Gore, and third place went to Kirby Chupp of Pryor. Beau Eller of Oklahoma School for the Blind, Kourtney Kellogg of Warner and Chloe Fritts of Chouteau received honorable mentions.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: 2013 Eastern Oklahoma Spelling Bee.
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Muskogee Civic Center.