The Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee, which annually features almost 50 students from Suffolk and Nassau counties, is temporarily moving to St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue for 2019.
The Bee had been sponsored by Hofstra University in Hempstead since 2012, but school officials there last year said scheduling conflicts prevented them from hosting the Bee. Organizers are looking for a new host and sponsor for 2020 and beyond.
“We have been actively working on securing a new sponsor since Hofstra notified us they would not continue as a sponsor,” said Valerie Miller, spokeswoman for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. “What is most important for spellers and their families to know is that there will be a 2019 Final Local Bee for the Long Island region."
The competition is set for March 20 at the Pless Center for Performing Arts in O’Connor Hall at St. Joseph’s.
There are 109 schools enrolled in the Long Island program. Winners from those school spelling bees are in the process of completing a 50-word online test to determine who will advance to the Final Local Bee on March 20.
Coordinators at each school have until Wednesday to administer the test to their school Bee champion. The top finishers — a maximum of 50 spellers — will compete at the Pless Center. The winner of the Final Local Bee will receive an expenses-paid trip to the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland, May 26-31.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is facilitating this year's Long Island competition with support from Discover Long Island and St. Joseph’s, however “our involvement in this local program is a temporary solution for this year," Miller said.
Jennifer Rothman, sports development manager at Discover Long Island, the tourism promotion agency for the region, said she was contacted by Scripps after Hofstra’s decision, which was reported in September. Rothman said there was not enough time to find a sponsor for the 2019 event.
“We look forward to welcoming Scripps Spelling Bee to St. Joseph’s College this year and continuing our relationship with both Scripps and St. Joseph’s College for future events,” she said.
A total of 137 schools from across Nassau and Suffolk counties participated in last year’s event, according to Scripps.
Last year, 41 students took part in Hofstra’s regional bee, which for the second year in a row was won by Ryan Himmelsbach of Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School in the Three Village school district. The National Bee, held last June, was won by Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, who received a trophy and more than $40,000 in cash and prizes, according to The Associated Press.
The bee's sponsor before Hofstra had been Long Island Jewish World.