The word is: S-P-E-L-L-D-O-W-N.
Champion spellers from 72 schools will compete over the next three weeks in the Jackson County Spelling Bee, culminating in the February 22, 2014, championship bee at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St.
Contestants range from first- to eighth-graders who've already won competitions at public and private schools in the county. They now move on to one of two division bees.
The first will be held at the Plaza Branch on Saturday, February 1. The second is set for Saturday, February 15, at the Mid-Continent Public Library's Midwest Genealogy Center, 344 S. Lee's Summit Rd., in Independence. Both are open only to the spellers and their guests.
Each division bee consists of three rounds. Spellers still standing after that will qualify for the championship bee at the Plaza Branch, which will be open to the public.
That winner advances to the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.
Last year's Jackson County champion, sixth-grader Meah Wilburn of Highland Park Elementary School in Lee's Summit, secured her title by correctly spelling "lamentation." In Washington two months later, she made it past the first two live-spelling rounds but was eliminated - with 197 others - on the basis of preliminary spelling and vocabulary test results.
The Kansas City Public Library is a partner in the Jackson County Spelling Bee with the Mid-Continent Public Library, the Local Investment Commission (LINC), and the Kansas City Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.