When 140-character tweets and short videos are the norm, it's refreshing to see middle school students compete in the time-honored academic competition of the spelling bee.
Spelling matters, even in today's tech-driven, auto-correct world of touch screens and dictation apps.
The more than 100 students are proving that by taking the stage March 23 for the 48th annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.
The competitors are students in grades 6 to 8 from public and independent schools from across San Diego County.
This is the first year for Spelling Bee Master Dr. Timothy Randell, who steps into the shoes of 35-year bee master veteran Dr. David Hay. Hay will be on hand to mentor Randell, who will offer a variety of nouns, verbs, and adjectives as the students try to spell their way to the top.
When Randell is not presiding over the Countywide Spelling Bee, he is a professor of practices and internships at the University of San Diego.
The event begins at 9:15 a.m. at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. The public is invited to attend. Can't make it to Balboa Park? Don't worry about it!
The winning speller will go on to represent San Diego County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. in May, potentially building on San Diego's winning history at the National Bee.
San Diego County has a history of having a strong showing at the national level. In 2005, Poway student Anurag Kashyap won the national championship, and in 2012, Francis Parker School student Snigdha Nandipati won her final round for the championship.
The Countywide Spelling Bee is presented by the San Diego County Credit Union and co-sponsored by the San Diego County Office of Education, the San Diego Union-Tribune, ABC 10News, San Diego Hall of Champions, and Southwest Airlines.