A Middle Tennessee seventh-grader made headlines this year for placing in the top 20 at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but he and hundreds of other local students may miss their opportunity to compete next year.
Merroll Hyde Magnet School student Jonathan Caldwell is one of the best student spellers in the nation. In spring, he won the Midstate regional spelling bee, which led him to the national spelling bee, where he finished in 19th place.
"It was really fun, and I really want to do it again," he said.
But there are currently no plans for a regional spelling bee in Middle Tennessee, which means there wouldn't be a local representative at the 2014 national bee in Washington.
"I really just want someone to step forward and sponsor our bee, because we can't have a bee without a sponsor," Caldwell said.
In order for a Midstate student to get to the national bee, he or she would first have to win the classroom, school, county and regional spelling bees.
But there is no regional spelling bee sponsor for the 30 Middle Tennessee counties.
If a sponsor is not secured by Dec. 31, it's possible there will not be a regional spelling bee for students across the Midstate this year.
The regional sponsor is responsible for hosting the bee, securing a location and sending the winner and one parent to Washington for five days to attend the national championship.
Last school year, Middle Tennessee State University hosted, but this year no one has stepped up.
"It's very discouraging. They work very hard to participate in the spelling bee, and they take it very seriously. We have competitive students, and they look forward to it every year," said Merroll Hyde teacher Karen MacKendree, who helps organize the school's spelling bee.
MacKendree said the school spelling bee will still go on, but it won't be the same.
"They won't have anywhere to go after the school spelling bee, so it doesn't carry as much weight for them," she said.
If you are interested in sponsoring the regional spelling bee, find more information here: http://www.spellingbee.com.
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