Conor Keightley-Reinhardt, his mother Lindsey (left), the Bee mascot, and his English teacher and spelling coach Traci Young.

The final round of the 2024 Lower Eastern Shore Spelling Bee lasted longer than you might think.  Like a tense tennis match, words bounced back and forth between Conor Keightley-Reinhardt and Stephen Decatur Middle School’s 7th grader Ilya Karcheuski.  Before spelling each word, the contestants stated their names.   Keightley-Reinhardt strode to the microphone each time and dryly said, “I’m Conor”, at one point eliciting giggles from the audience because he had repeated it so frequently.
But he was done repeating when the 8th grader correctly spelled “phlebotomy” to clinch the Regional Championship and qualify to represent the Lower Eastern Shored in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee later this spring.
Keightley-Reinhardt was one of 55 participants in this year’s Bee held at the Ella Fitzgerald Performing Arts Center (PAC) on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  Despite the miserable conditions outside with rain and gusty winds, the PAC was filled with anxious parents, friends, and teachers hanging on every word and cheering the contestants on, regardless of whether they answered correctly or incorrectly.
Participants didn’t just have to spell correctly.  In the third round, they had to determine which of the two definitions they were given accurately defined the word.  It’s an option that Scripps has included in the Bee competition to ensure that contestants to not only memorize correct spelling but to understand the meaning of the often-complex words they were given. 
This year’s judges were:
·      Dr. Urban Wiggins—Vice Provost for Decision Science and Visualization at UMES
·      Diamond Nwaeze, 4-H STEM Youth Development Educator at UMES-Extension
·      Dr. Amy Hagenrater-Gooding, Professor of English and Modern Languages at UMES
Dr. Kate Brown, Associate Professor in the Department of Business, Management and Accounting at UMES was the Bee’s announcer.  Dr. Kadeem Turnbull, Director of Alumni Relations and Special Events at UMES served as the Emcee. 
In addition to representing the Lower Eastern Shore at the national spelling bee, Keightley-Reinhardt will receive:
·      A one-year membership to Britannica Online Premium
·      A one-year subscription to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online Dictionary
·      The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, 2024 U.S. Mint Proof Set
·      A one-year subscription to Epic Family
·      Eight Love, 1-on-1 online coding classes and a one-year home subscription to Tynker
·      A custom-made Champion’s medallion
·      An all-expenses-paid trip to the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee and a six-night stay at the Gaylord National Resort
The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place with the Preliminaries on May 28th and concludes with the Finals on May 30th.

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