On the first day of spring, snow-covered students from all over Jackson County arrived at Fort Osage High School to compete in the County Bee.

On the first day of spring, snow-covered students from all over Jackson County arrived at Fort Osage High School to compete in the County Bee.

It’s a big deal. This is no ordinary spelling bee, as the winner gets to advance to Scripps National Bee in Washington, D.C., to spell their way to fame.

As newspapers across the country tighten their belts to adjust to the current economy, it’s been a struggle for them to continue to sponsor local spelling bees, as they pay for the winner and a chaperone to attend the national bee. The Examiner continues to be a strong newspaper, but we did ask the business community for help with this year’s expenses and we want to publicly say thank you to the many who said, “yes, we want to support our local students.”

This year we didn’t have as many schools participate as we have had in the past, but again it must be an expense that their budgets can’t handle.

Scripps initiated a $99 fee for each school that enters the county bee, and unfortunately it meant that it was the end of the line for some local spellers.

As a company, I suppose we could have just resigned ourselves to the fact that we can’t afford to host a county bee, but is that what’s best for the students or just what’s easier for us?

It’s probably the chip on my shoulder from when my daughter was in high school, but I have a problem with a school that’s not able to come up with $99 to support academics or at least ask for help to generate it.

My daughter graduated second in her class, was involved in the Science Bowl and Academic Bowl and spent her social time reading books. Most people don’t even know what a Science or Academic Bowl is and pay even less attention to those students participating.

There aren’t any pep rallies before these bowls, no spirit week or cheerleaders. Announcements weren’t made over the morning intercom saying that they took first and most of the time the only people attending were the parents of these scholar students who were just happy to be competing.

Don’t get me wrong. I still attend high school athletics and love every minute of it and no, I don’t attend Science or Academic bowls anymore, because frankly, I’m just not that smart.

What gets my goat is a question I don’t know the answer to. If a school had a group of athletes who needed $99 to attend a competition would they somehow find the money or just decide that it wasn’t worth the effort.

During this year’s bee, a fifth grader made an important announcement before we started the competition.

Smiling like he was being awarded an Emmy he stood up on stage and said. “I want to thank my mom, my nana and my teacher because this is the most important day of my life.”

That pretty much says it all.