By Walter Nicholls Posted June 3, 2009, 12:48 PM EDT
WASHINGTON On May 29, Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Company wrapped-up its five-day 82nd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, which returned to the Independence Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt. This year’s bee—the largest ever—brought together 293 regional spelling bee champions and their sponsors.
ESPN designed the stage set and, with ABC, held exclusive live coverage rights for the finals on Thursday. Also part of the set this year were two 9- by 12-foot rear projection screens flanking each side of the stage. As each contestant approached the microphone, technicians projected his or her image, name, age, grade, and sponsor’s name on the screen.
In addition to the competition’s preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds, the week’s activities included a barbecue held Monday for 950 students and their families at the Pavillions of Turkey Run and an annual closing awards banquet and party Friday at the Grand Hyatt. The 1981 national champion, Paige P. Kimble, is the director of the Bee and has worked on the program since 1984. This year’s winner was 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, who took home $40,000 in cash and prizes. Her winning word: laodicean.