Move over David Cook, Jackson County has a new American Idol. Jordan Hoffman didn’t sing her way to fame, she spelled it.

Move over David Cook, Jackson County has a new American Idol. Jordan Hoffman didn’t sing her way to fame, she spelled it.

Last Saturday 77 students from schools all across the county competed for the title of champion, and Hoffman claimed the victory for a second year in a row. At the beginning of June, she will compete in the nationally televised Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., – a trip made possible through The Examiner and local businesses that help support the expense.

It always gives me great hope for the future as I listen to these kids tackle words I can’t even pronounce, much less spell. Even though it takes months to prepare for the bee, by the time the kids take the stage for the first round, I’m always filled with the satisfaction that we are able to provide an arena, that isn’t sports related, to let these students shine. School athletes seem to get most of the limelight, and the spelling bee provides these students the opportunity to represent their school in a way that not many can.

It takes a community to put on a spelling bee of this size and it wouldn’t be possible without the help of Fort Osage High School for allowing us to use their auditorium each year.

Teacher Jeff English comes with a smile and provides us with the technology to record the bee as well as setting the stage with what he does best “lights, sound – action.”

The audience was full of friends and family, cheering on their favorite speller, and what really amazed me is finding our champions from the past four years spending their Saturday watching the bee. This goes to show how much of an impact the spelling bee makes on the lives of these students as they return to cheer on kids they have never met.

There are five wonderful women who volunteer their time each year just for the sake of the children.

Christine McKerlie, teacher from the Independence School District, has been the spelling bee record keeper for the past 16 years.

Carol Marcks, retired Fort Osage assistant superintendent, has been a judge for the bee for 21 years along with Kathryn Reck, retired teacher from the Independence School District who has volunteered her time for the past 30 years. Joyce Dull, retired teacher from Fort is also a judge, and for the past three years I’ve misspelled her name in the paper as well as the spelling bee program. Only I could pull that off for a spelling bee.

The key to holding a successful bee for the past 25 of the 37 years The Examiner has been the sponsor can only be credited to one person. Rosemary Garten, retired teacher from Fort. begins studying the words she will pronounce for the students to spell months in advance. A true testament to being a teacher for life, her commitment to students is never-ending.

My thanks isn’t enough to these people who won’t hesitate to make a difference in a child’s life. In my book, you are all champions.