Students may notice a new crowd hanging around the University of South Dakota campus this weekend.
Elementary students grades first through eighth will take their chances at spelling at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Saturday, Feb. 18 in the Muenster University Center Ballroom.
Cheryl Havermann, program assistant for enrollment services, said USD was approached by Scripps National Spelling Bee in October to see if the university would take sponsorship of the national bee for South Dakota after the South Dakota Newspaper Association backed down.
Dean of the Education School Rick Melmer said holding the bee is both educational and fun for students and families of all ages.
“We’re hoping to get education graduates involved,” Melmer said. “The goal is for us to provide the opportunity for students majoring in teaching to be involved in academic events outside the classroom.”
Havermann said the regional spelling bee will see the attendance of the Southeast region of South Dakota including schools like Vermillion, Yankton and Scotland.
The top two spellers will advance to the state competition which will be held at Aalfs Auditorium March 17. From there, the top speller will be sent to Washington, D.C., for the national bee.
Havermann said hosting the bee is a great way to bring K-12 students onto campus.
“We wanted to outreach to K-12 students to USD and do something not necessarily aimed at getting them to come here, but to help them to be better spellers and students,” she said.
To prepare for the bee, Havermann has been contacting community and area businesses to ask for donations and prizes including Dairy Queen, McDonalds and Wal-Mart.
“We’ve gotten a good response back,” she said. “It has been fun and it’s been good for the students that have been helping me to organize to work with the businesses.”
Sophomore Danny Asmus works with Havermann and has been helping with the planning and organization process for the bee. He said the bee will be a great chance to showcase USD to younger students.
“It helps get our name out more to younger students,” he said. “When I was younger, it was always fun to go to college campuses for activities and events.”
Reach reporter Josie Clarey at