FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         March 14, 2021    
Finalists from around the state to compete for Georgia’s top speller
Albeit a little differently
ATLANTA – Normally this time of year, it's announced that we will soon hear words such as “devitrification,” “jotnian,” and “reascendancy,” glide from the tongues of our 20 state bee championship finalists.  This year it will be from their computer clicks.
The challenges that COVID-19 has presented in Georgia’s public school classrooms, by association, has also made this past year challenging for those participating in their local and county spelling bees.  The Scripps National Spelling Bee did provide a virtual platform in late 2020 for those schools and systems that could not hold their bees in-person.  As you might imagine, there were some technical glitches and platform anxiety all the way through the county level.  But through it all, Georgia has its final 20 spellers for the 2021 Georgia Association of Educators' (GAE) State Spelling Bee Championship. 
The GAE State Spelling Bee Committee (SSBC) also decided to hold both the region and state championships via the same Scripps online spelling platform.  “We concurred that it would not be safe for students, families and the committee, judges and callers to gather physically in our normal manner in March,” said SSBC Vice Chair Susan Tallant.  The committee also concluded that the myriad technical challenges from different areas of the state precluded it from holding it via a video platform such as Zoom.
Images are in order of listing below, left to right, and down
The Scripps platform provides for an electronic, written test utilizing 50 randomly selected words that have not been on a previous study list.  Each of the 20 finalists will be taking their test at their home or school location on March 19, 2021 beginning at 11 a.m.  Because of this, there will be no video of participants to view spelling their words.  The test begins with an integrity pledge to which each finalist must agree.  The timed test - 30 minutes - consists of 25 vocabulary and 25 spelling questions. The SSBC anticipates being able to declare the winner and runner-up around 2 p.m. to consider any tie-breakers that might be needed.
After each student completes his/her test, each will be tabulated and scored.  The two students with the highest scores will be named the state champion and runner-up. 
This year, due to the global pandemic, Scripps says the national finals will be a combination of virtual and in-person rounds. They will virtually whittle down national contestants to between 10 to 12 spellers who will then travel to the ESPN Center in Orlando, FL, in July for an in-person final. Georgia’s state champion and runner-up will participate in the early virtual written rounds and hopefully one or both will make it to the in-person final of 10-12 finalists. Ananya Augustine, last year’s state runner-up, is one of this year’s 20 state finalists.
GAE President Lisa Morgan said, “We admire the perseverance of our spellers, their families, teachers, and schools for making it through the challenges presented by COVID-19.  Making it to the state championship this year has a bit of extra special meaning.  I commend our finalists and all who participated throughout the state starting in September.  We only hope we are in a position for the 2022 cycle to return to the familiar format we all enjoy.”
Kevin Pearson
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