Parent and Student Resources

Is your child interested in or decided to be a part of the Spelling Bee? Check out these resources. 

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History of the Bee


The National Spelling Bee takes place in May. But the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee actually starts months before, as, every year, competition is narrowed at school, local, and regional events. 

How It Came to Bee

The National Spelling Bee was launched by the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal in 1925. With competitions, cash prizes, and a trip to the nation's capital, the Bee hoped to stimulate "general interest among pupils in a dull subject."

What's a Bee?

The word "bee" has long been used to describe a busy gathering of people who come together for a special purpose, such as quilting, spinning, logging, or raising a barn. "Spelling bee" in particular is an American term that came into use in the 1870s.

Take the Spelling Challenge

Check out the winning words that made spellers into national champions the past two decades. Then, test your spelling savvy with our spelling quiz!

Spellers waiting for their turn

Scripps National Spelling Bee Purpose:

To help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives.

History of the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee:

This is the history of the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee as recalled by Sr. Rosemary Smith, retired Principal of Assumption of Belmont School. Sr. Rosemary has been involved with Spelling Bee since its beginning in 1977.


The Spelling Bee started as a competition between Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Catholic and Christian schools within Grand Rapids.

Early Years          Suburban schools started asking to participate. Kent ISD took over operation of the Spelling Bee as a neutral coordinator, because it did not have its own students competing.


The Grand Rapids Press joined as sponsor, according to Sr. Rosemary, but others think The Press was involved from the very beginning.

Spelling Bee expanded to include the entire GR Press distribution area.

Winner of the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee first goes to the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee.

The Spelling Bee Committee, with representatives from GRPS, Catholic, Christian, and suburban schools plus GR Press and Kent ISD is established to set policy and run the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee.


Kent ISD and The Grand Rapids Press were principal partners in the Spelling Bee for many years, with the Grand Rapids Press as the primary sponsor, although many area banks provided Savings Bonds as prizes. The Press distributed as many as 30,000 “Paideia” (study booklets) per year to schools in the participating counties.

Mid 1990’s

The Gerald R. Ford Museum became a sponsor and the site of the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee.

Charter Schools and Homeschool Associations begin to participate in the Spelling Bee.

The Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee becomes one of the larger bees in the country.


All participating schools start registering directly with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which started charging a modest registration fee.

The Spelling Bee Committee continues to set local policy and operate the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee.


Kent ISD and The Grand Rapids Press traded roles with Kent ISD becoming Primary Sponsor as well as coordinator of the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee.


The Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee supported by multiple community sponsors, who contribute financial and/or in-kind support.


The Grand Rapids Press/MLive becomes Media partner for the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee.


40th Anniversary of the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee.


Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee and the Scripps National Spelling Bee cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Only time since World War II that the National Spelling Bee was not held.


An online option for classroom, grade, school, Regional or even Final Local Bees available for the first time.

Current Kent ISD continues to sponsor and coordinate the Spelling Bee with financial and in-kind support from community sponsors and individual donors.