Prescott Valley boy seeks third consecutive county spelling bee win

38 school spelling bee winners battle for county spelling supremacy

For the third consecutive year, Prescott Valley’s Tanner Dodt looks to finish first in the Yavapai County Spelling Bee. Tanner is pictured in 2015, when he won his first county spelling bee by correctly spelling the word precipice. (Photo by Bill Helm)

For the third consecutive year, Prescott Valley’s Tanner Dodt looks to finish first in the Yavapai County Spelling Bee. Tanner is pictured in 2015, when he won his first county spelling bee by correctly spelling the word precipice. (Photo by Bill Helm)

CAMP VERDE – Two years ago, Tanner Dodt of Prescott Valley won his first Yavapai County Spelling Bee.

For good measure, he won again last year.

Is it possible that Tanner, now 12, could win the county’s spelling bee a third consecutive time?

Friday, Tanner will compete against 37 other Yavapai County children who won their respective schools’ spelling bees earlier this year. Also active in the Young Playwrights Festival in Prescott as actor, writer and director, Tanner is a “remarkable young man,” says Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter.

Says Carter, to be a good speller, it helps to “be a good reader, write often, study the rules of spelling, [such as] i before e, except after c), study and concentrate on spelling. You have to want to be a good speller.”

“It can tarnish careers,” Carter says. “Ask [former] Vice President Dan Quayle.”

Whichever child wins the county’s 71st annual spelling bee will then move on to this year’s Arizona State Spelling Bee with a chance not only to win – but to then represent Arizona at the 89th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Should Tanner – or any Arizona child – win the national competition this year, that speller would become just the state’s second National Spelling Bee winner.

In 1953, Elizabeth Hess correctly spelled ‘soubrette’ to win the 26th annual bee. According to Valerie Miller, manager of External Communications at E.W. Scripps Company, Hess “represented Phoenix and the Arizona Republic.”

Times have changed since the nation’s first official spelling bee, back in 1925.

Back in ’25, the Louisville Courier-Journal conducted a statewide spelling challenge for Kentucky’s grade school-aged children. Its main objective was to help children improve both their vocabularies and their spelling.

By 1929, 21 newspapers nationwide were sponsoring spelling bees.

In the beginning, it was customary to claim two winners – one boy and one girl.

Due to World War II, the National Spelling Bee was suspended from 1943-1945.

It didn’t take too long – historically speaking – for the spelling bees to become something big to a whole lot of people.

In 1946, NBC broadcast the national finals – live. In 2006, ABC was the first to broadcast the National Spelling Bee finals in prime time. Since then, the finals have been broadcast in prime time on ESPN each year, Miller said.

On Friday, Feb. 24 at 12:30 p.m., students from the county’s public districts, charter schools and private schools, as well as students who are home school, will look to become a part of history at Camp Verde Unified School District’s Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts.

The center is located at 210 Camp Lincoln Road in Camp Verde. Call Camp Verde Unified School District at 928-567-8000 for more information.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42 and on Facebook at @CampVerdeBugle

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