The Scripps National Spelling Bee is finally upon us. Each of the 281 competitors will grace the stage in National Harbor Maryland as they compete for a financial scholarship and a large trophy with their name on it. Most of this year's contestants range in age from 8-14 years of age, with the majority falling somewhere between 12 and 14.
This year, you can even play along with the students as they compete for top honors. Americans love a good Spelling Bee, each year we are captivated by these impressive students. Here are eleven interesting facts about this year's crop of incredibly talented students.
1. More than half of this year's contestants are girls
This year, 52.3% of those competing are girls, the other 47.7% are boys. Just a reminder in case you forgot who run the world (girls).
2. The majority of competitors come from public schools
178 of the 281 total competitors hail from public schools. 54 students come from private schools and 25 students are home schooled. The rest of the student make-up is from parochial and charter schools.
3. Two students have competed five years in a row
Both Rachael Cundey and Emily Keaton have competed for five years in a row, this year marks their fifth attempt. Their vocabulary probably far exceeds our wildest imaginations.
4. This kid who fainted is now an internet meme.
In 2006, the internet couldn't get enough of Akshay Buddiga, who fainted after he was given a particularly difficult word. The best part of it is, he got up and finished the word. He is now memorialized in GIF form.
5. These kids know how to lose like a boss
There can only be one winner, which means there will be many, many losers. Emily here showed us how to lose like a champion.
6. Competitors have a total of 454 siblings.
The vast majority of this years group of competitors (232 of them) come from a family of siblings. Nine of them have a fraternal twin. Only children can't catch a break.
7. 116 speak more than one language
8. They love math
This years crop of spellers has overwhelmingly cited math as their favorite subject in school.
9. Spellers have a favorite word
10. Where the "Bee" in Spelling Bee comes from
The Bee began in 1925 as a way to get children excited about spelling and grammar, this remains the goal of the bee today. It is called a "Spelling Bee" because it refers to a community or social gathering to join in a singular activity. The first winning word was "gladiolus" which is a flower. Last years winning word? Guetapens.
11. This year, there is also a vocabulary test
This is the first year the Scripps Spelling Bee will have an accompanying vocabulary test. This vocabulary test will account for 50% of the spellers overall score and is administered over a computer. The announcement of this additional test meant that those competing had to completely change the way they studied and prepared for the already strenuous competition.