Twin Cities spellers faced missing out on their chance to compete at the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee after its main sponsor pulled out – but Minnesota Public Radio has rode to the rescue.
Organizers of the Metro Area Regional Spelling Bee feared they would have to cancel this year's event, which is a qualifier for the national bee in Washington D.C., after Augsburg College decided not to continue its sponsorship.
But Scripps confirmed on its website Wednesday the competition will go ahead with MPR as the lead sponsor, with the finals being held at The Fitzgerald Theater from noon on March 20.
The Star Tribune reports that "several companies and nonprofits" had put their names in the hat to sponsor the event after learning it would be canceled if nobody stepped forward.
In a story posted Wednesday afternoon, MPR's executive vice president Dave Kansas said: "Because education is one of our areas of focus, this made perfect sense for us. This is an important event for the community and we wanted to make sure metro-area students have the opportunity to participate."
The news organization says the competition is open to students in grades four through eight in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties, with the winner advancing to the national contest in Maryland this May.
Schools must be enrolled on the Scripps website (spellingbee.com) by Jan. 28 so their students can enter, and have until Feb. 12 to select their spelling bee champion.
Before they get selected for the regional qualifiers, students must do a 50-word spelling and vocabulary test online between Feb. 17-24, with the results determining who has been selected to compete in the regional finals.