At the end of January, Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and other members of the Bee Team and the E.W. Scripps Company set out on a trip to Accra to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the spelling bee program in Ghana. The Spelling Bee Ghana is set up much like the Scripps National Spelling Bee's Bee Week, and we were able to experience the competition as well as other fun activities with the spellers.
On Tuesday, January 31, nearly 200 spellers gathered for the written test, which would help determine the spellers who would continue on past the first round of onstage spelling later in the week. This difficult test included forty spelling and vocabulary questions, and the Ghanaian spellers performed like champs!
First thing on Thursday morning, Paige Kimble accompanied Eugenia Tachie-Menson, CEO of Young Educators Foundation and director of the Spelling Bee Ghana, for a series of interviews with local television and radio stations. They discussed ten years of the spelling bee program in Ghana, what takes place at the national finals in Washington, D.C., and the importance of reading to students' future success.
Later in the day, we met up with the Ghanaian spellers at Rufus Green Parks for an afternoon of activities, special appearances and ice cream! Much like our annual barbecue, this event is just one way for spellers to get to know each other and form friendships before the spelling begins. As a big surprise for the spellers, Ghanaian pop singer Adina made a special appearance and sang a few of her songs with them.
Friday morning began with a series of addresses to the spellers from some well-known faces, including Ghanaian media personality Anita Erskine, 2010 Ghanaian champion Darren Sackey and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Robert P. Jackson.
Then the Scripps National Spelling Bee team took a drive into Accra to a pair of schools in James Town for one of our favorite moments from the week. At the schools, we had the opportunity to connect with teachers, observe their classrooms and speak to students one-on-one about reading and the importance of education. In honor of the ten years of spelling achievement in Ghana, the Bee donated more than 3,500 books to Accra Sempe Primary School and Accra Royal School as part of a special presentation.
On Saturday, the main event began: the onstage spelling competition. From the nearly 200 spellers who earned a trip to Accra for Spelling Bee Ghana, only 75 made it to the Finalist rounds, and after a grueling day of challenging words, one girl was victorious. Lily Tugba of Solidarity International School will represent Ghana in the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., and she aspires to succeed on the national stage like the 2016 Ghanaian champion, Afua Ansah. For a peek at Lily's post-win interview, check out the video below from our friends at Newsy.
To cap off the week, the Spelling Bee Ghana ended with a thanksgiving service and awards ceremony where the Finalist spellers, their families and the Ghanaian Bee Team celebrate the week's achievements. Paige Kimble accepted an appreciation award from the Spelling Bee Ghana, and she also helped celebrate Bee director Eugenia Tachie-Menson whose birthday occurred as the perfect bookend to the week.
Overall, the Scripps National Spelling Bee group had an unforgettable experience at the 10th Spelling Bee Ghana, learning about the great impact that a decade of the Ghanaian national spelling bee has had on the country's youth and looking forward to many more years of spelling bees in West Africa. We look forward to welcoming Lily to the national spelling bee finals in May.