After spending the past two weeks as local and national celebrities — saluted on the editorial page of The Kansas City Star and celebrated on the set of television’s Good Morning America — Sophia Hoffman and Kush Sharma get back to what they do best.
The two Jackson County Spelling Bee finalists, deadlocked after 66 rounds and more than four hours of competition on February 22, resume their duel in the Central Library’s fifth-floor Helzberg Auditorium. The winner will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.
Admission to Helzberg will be limited to family, close friends, and media. However, the contest will be live-streamed to Kirk Hall on Central’s first floor, where the Library is setting up a projection screen amid a public watch party of sorts. Among national media planning to cover the event are Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, CNN, and Inside Edition, and all of Kansas City’s TV network affiliates have indicated they’ll send crews.
The Jackson County Bee was suspended two weeks ago after Hoffman, a fifth-grader at Highland Park Elementary School in Lee’s Summit, and Sharma, a seventh-grader at Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City, exhausted an original list of 200-plus words provided by Scripps and 20 more gleaned by bee officials from Merriam Webster’s 11th-edition dictionary. The contest will resume with a newly supplied, 200-word list from Scripps that grows progressively more difficult. As backup, officials are adding up to another 100 words from Merriam Webster’s.
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.