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Meet the 4 Kansas City-area students participating in 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Posted at 10:47 AM, May 28, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City-area has a rich tradition of competing in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Four spellers from across the metro have joined the ranks of the 245 participants putting their skills to the test. There are contestants representing all 50 states, and some hailing from abroad, including Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

The KC-area spellers participating this year are:

  • Mariah Coffey, 13: Seventh-grader at Harrisonville Middle School in Harrisonville
  • Garrett Fry, 13: Eighth-grader at Delta Woods Middle School in Independence
  • Emory Jobe, 14: Eighth-grader at Mission Trail Middle School in Olathe
  • Ellie Wattenbarger, 14: Eighth-grader at Hamilton Middle School in Hamilton, Missouri

Mariah told KSHB 41 News' Rae Daniel that she feels proud of her accomplishments.

"It's just a good experience to go there and be in Washington, D.C.," she said.

She said her method for preparing has been to stay calm and focus on memorization.

2 Kansas City-area spellers return to Scripps National Spelling Bee stage

Garrett is no stranger to the Scripps National Spelling Bee; he participated last year. This year, he hopes to improve on his past performance.

"Obviously my goal was to succeed, but I can't say I really expected to be where I was," Garrett said. "This year I set maybe too high of a bar now ... well, no such thing, now I'm trying to beat that."

He was tasked with a speaking role in this year's opening ceremony.

Emory said she almost didn't participate in the spelling bee, but ultimately decided to represent her district.

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"I was just like, ‘I won district,’ I didn’t know what to think of it," she said. "As I’ve gotten closer, it’s kind of settled and I’m a little in awe that I’ve made it here."

She said her favorite word to spell is "achernar," the brightest star in a constellation.

Ellie first participated in the spelling bee in the sixth grade. After two years of hard work, she's now headed to the national spelling bee.

"It's exciting, and it made me a little nervous," she shared. "I feel like I'm ready for it."

Missouri 14-year-old ready for Scripps Spelling Bee

The preliminary round of the spelling bee takes place between 7 a.m.-6:40 p.m. CT Tuesday. All 245 spellers will get an opportunity to share their knowledge on stage.

On Wednesday, the quarterfinal round will be held between 7-11:45 a.m. CT and the semifinals will be broadcast at 7 p.m. CT.

A champion will be determined after the final round, which takes place 7-9 p.m. CT Thursday.

You can watch the semifinal and final rounds of the spelling bee unfold for free on ION at 7 p.m. CT. The preliminary and quarterfinal rounds are available for viewing for free on ION Plus.

UPDATE, May 28 | Emory Jobe was knocked out in the 1st preliminary round on Tuesday. Mariah Coffey was knocked out in the 2nd preliminary round. Ellie Wattenbarger was knocked out in the 3rd preliminary round.

UPDATE, May 29 | Garrett Fry was knocked out during Wednesday's semifinal round.