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Spelling Bee: Day of fun before competition

Posted: 5:57 PM, May 23, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-24 00:12:57Z

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - One day before preliminary rounds begin at the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee, the 284 spellers on hand for this year’s Bee got to take a field trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo Monday afternoon.

There, spellers and their families got to enjoy barbecue, caricature drawings, limbo games and the zoo itself.

Spellers were treated to a pleasant afternoon in the nation’s capital as rain was in the forecast for Monday’s visit to the zoo.

The party begins

The Bee held a welcome ceremony for spellers and their families after their return from the Zoo.

Spelling Bee pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly and the E.W. Scripps Company’s Chip Mahaney served as the ceremony’s emcee. Bailly, the 1980 champion of the Bee, Paige Kimble, the 1981 champion and former spellers Benjamin Kulas and Dev Jaiswal shared tips for the spellers.

“It is a good idea to say the word before you spell it,” Kulas said. “When you say the word before if you’ve misunderstood the word in a way that is obvious to the officials, they’ll ask you to work with them before spelling.”

“Think before you spell,” Jaiswal told the audience. “Once you say the wrong letter, skip a letter, or mix up the order, that’s it – game over.”

Following the opening ceremony, Peter Sokolowsi from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary addressed spellers.

Testing begins

Before spellers go on the stage Wednesday, all spellers will take an hour-long multiple-choice exam Tuesday morning to test the spellers on spelling and vocabulary.

Coupled with the spellers’ performance during round Nos. 2 and 3 on Wednesday, the preliminary test will help narrow the field in advance for Thursday’s finals.

Following Tuesday’s assessment, spellers will be free to explore Washington landmarks.

Round Nos. 2 and 3 will be on ESPN3 all day Wednesday. ESPN2 and ESPN will carry the finals.