Subject Matters: Kiwanis Spelling Bee Celebrates 24 Years

Henderson County's Kiwanis spelling bee, a cherished tradition, happens this Saturday.

Henderson County’s Kiwanis spelling bee, a cherished tradition, happens this Saturday.

It’s possible that our collective standards have been eroded by the pestilence of grammar errors in digital communication — how many memes can one see where “you’re” appears as “your” before irritation eventually fades away to apathy? Still, though, the persistence of traditional step-to-the-mic spelling bees — the scholastic variety, the nationally televised bee with words seemingly plucked from obscure medical journals, plus grown-up charity bees often hyped with themes or costumes — shows that all hope is not lost on the literary front.

As Lauren Stepp points out in a story in a story in this month’s print issue (, spelling bees “[honor] the junior bookworms and aspiring writers who might otherwise be lost in efforts to rev up STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.”

Indeed, the Kiwanis Club Spelling Bee, held in Flat Rock this Saturday, is rounding its quarter-century mark and still filling the house. Former participants, such as Holly English of Clear Creek Elementary, are now young teachers readying their own pupils for the annual event.

English helps kids practice by parsing out words in search of helpful contextual hints (“finite” is part of “definite,” “caterer” contains the word “ate”). On stage, the natural tension of the bee is enhanced with an option for wild-card words — not appearing on the official study lists — in the second half. When contestants from the last three teams are left standing, a sudden-death round determines the winner.

Grammar nerds, bee happy.

The Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville hosts 14 schools for this years Kiwanis Spelling Bee, happening Saturday, February 18, 9am-12:30pm in Bo Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College (180 West Campus Drive, Flat Rock). Free. For more information, call 828-694-1700.

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