The journey to Washington, D.C., and the Scripps National Spelling Bee begins each fall as thousands of schools enroll with the Bee. More than 11 million students participate in classroom and school bees before advancing to local bees coordinated by newspapers, community organizations and universities in the area. The winners of these local bees travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in the National Finals.

Each of these spellers started the journey to D.C. in the classroom with a study list and a dream. The journey is a journey of competition, but also of discovery of the English language; of support from family, friends, teachers and communities; of camaraderie and good sportsmanship; and of our nation's capital. To inspire your own dreams and jump-start your discoveries, here is a peek at what the 285 National Finalists experienced at Bee Week 2016!


Bee Week 2016

Sunday, May 22

Spellebrity Welcome

Excitement and anticipation filled the Gaylord National Resort as spellers and their families arrived at Bee Week and took part in the Spellebrity Welcome, an opportunity for spellers to pick up their swag bags and get to know the other national finalists. The swag bags included prizes from our sponsors, the exclusive speller t-shirt and the Bee Keeper the autograph book that spellers used to collect signatures throughout the week.


Monday, May 23

National Zoo Experience

Spellers and their families traveled to Smithsonian's National Zoo for the annual Bee Week barbecue. The afternoon was packed with great food, field games, dance-offs, arts and crafts, and animal encounters with some of the zoo's exciting species.

Opening Ceremony and Assembly

Following the barbecue, spellers and their families gathered in the Maryland Ballroom for the Opening Ceremony and Assembly, where the spellers learned a bit about the Bee's long history, and received instructions and advice from Bee officials including executive director Paige Kimble.


Tuesday, May 24

Preliminaries Test

Bright and early on Tuesday morning, spellers took the Preliminaries Test, a multiple-choice test that contained both spelling words and vocabulary questions. Think you have what it takes to be a national finalist speller? Take the test!

Spellebrity Video Contest Premiere

Later that evening, everyone gathered for a brand new event, centered around the Spellebrity Video Contest, presented by Kindle. The five Finalist teams, who had earned their spots by public vote, had a chance to display their videos and answer questions before the spellers voted for their favorites!


Wednesday, May 27

Rounds Two and Three

The onstage competition began first thing on Wednesday morning as spellers took the stage for Round Two of the Preliminaries. Spellers who spelled correctly in this round advanced to Round Three.


Based on the combination of their Preliminaries Test scores and the points gained for spelling correctly onstage, 45 spellers qualified for the Finals. The energy in the ballroom was buzzing as ESPN's Paul Loeffler announced the names of the Finalists after Round Three.


Thursday, May 28


On Thursday morning, the 45 Finalists battled against the dictionary for a spot in the primetime Finals. In the end, 10 spellers accomplished the buzzworthy feat of being named Top Finishers of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Finals, continued

On Thursday evening, 10 spellers took the stage to compete in the final rounds of the Bee, which were broadcast live in prime time on ESPN. After rounds of spelling, including maxing out the 25 championship rounds, Jairam Hathwar, 13, and Nihar Janga, 11, were declared co-champions — the sixth pair of co-champions in the Scripps National Spelling Bee's 89-year history!


Friday, May 29


While Jairam and Nihar began their coast-to-coast press tour, other spellers and their families used the free time on Friday morning to explore the Washington, D.C., area, including Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate, and President Lincoln's cottage and memorial.

Awards Banquet

On the final evening of Bee Week, spellers and their families joined the officials and staff at the Awards Banquet to celebrate a great week of competition. Pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly and Associate Pronouncer Dr. Brian Sietsema presented prizes to each of the Top Finishers, and the audience was inspired and amazed by magician and extraordinist Craig Karges.

Farewell Party

The final event of Bee Week may very well be the most fun for spellers! At the Farewell Party, spellers take to the dance floor, exchange contact information with new friends and pose for funny pictures in the photo booth. It's a great send-off for everyone involved in Bee Week.


Want to begin your own journey to Washington, D.C.? Check to see if your school is enrolled with the Bee!