MPR steps in to sponsor 2016 Twin Cities spelling bee

Updated: 3:38 p.m. | Posted: 3:06 p.m.

Minnesota Public Radio said Wednesday it will sponsor the 2016 Metro Area Regional Spelling Bee, keeping alive one of the best-known academic competitions and giving Twin Cities area students a shot at the National Spelling Bee.

The local bee will take place March 20 at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul with MPR News' Tom Weber hosting. It's open to students in grades four through eight in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties. The winner of the regional bee will advance to the national competition May 24-26 in Maryland.

The local spelling bee lost its sponsor late last year and faced possible cancellation before MPR intervened.

"Because education is one of our areas of focus, this made perfect sense for us," said Dave Kansas, MPR's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "This is an important event for the community and we wanted to make sure metro-area students have the opportunity to participate."

The national competition, started in 1925, describes itself as the nation's largest and longest-running educational promotion. More than 11 million students were expected to take part in bees this school year for a chance to be part of the national competition.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee applauded the news that the Twin Cities bee would go on.

"Establishing local support like this is fundamentally important in providing students more opportunities to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives," said Valerie Miller, spokesperson for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

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