Instructions for Spellers

Thank you for supporting Reaching Heights and for spelling in our Adult Spelling Bee. Proceeds fund Reaching Heights programs. The 2018 Bee is Wednesday, April 18 at 7:00 pm at Cleveland Heights High School on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights.

We anticipate another great evening of spelling, friendly competition, and community building! We know some teams like to study while others are willing to take their chances! Scripps Howard and Merriam-Webster provide an online study tool available at The Study Zone at Words for at least the first two rounds will come from the online study tool. Words in subsequent rounds may or may not be from the study tool.

A few reminders:

  • Spellers should arrive at 6:00 pm and gather in the cafeteria at Heights High with their teammates to receive critical instructions and logistics (where to sit, how to move on stage, spelling procedures).  We will also take team photos and provide a light pre-Bee supper.

  • Bring an energetic cheering section for your team.

  • Wear fun and inspiring costumes or hats that reflect the creative whim of spellers!

  • Please communicate these details with your team mates.

  • Each team donates $500 to the Bee. Donations can be made online or checks can be mailed to:
    Reaching Heights, 2843 Washington Blvd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44118.

Questions? Contact Krista Hawthorne, or call 216-932-5110. 

Reaching Heights Spelling Bee Rules


These rules for the 2018 Reaching Heights Adult Community Spelling Bee are adapted from the contest rules of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

  1. Words used in the Spelling Bee are selected from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and its Addenda Section, copyright 1981 Merriam-Webster Inc.

  2. Pronunciation is based on diacritical markings in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and its Addenda Section, from which the pronouncer shall select a definition or definitions. With judges’ approval, pronouncer may more fully explain a word’s meaning to supplement the dictionary definition or definitions quoted.

  3. Each team will be given 25 seconds to spell each word. The time period starts after the team’s last question for more information has ended. Teams that correctly spell a beginning word(s) progress to intermediate and advanced words. Spellers are encouraged but not required to pronounce the word before and after spelling it.

  4. Teams may ask the pronouncer to pronounce the word again, define it, or use it in a sentence. The team may ask for the language origin of a word. No other information about the etymology or history of a word will be given. If the team has a specific root word in mind, the team may ask if the dictionary lists that word as the root of the word to be spelled. The pronouncer shall grant all such requests until the judges agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the team. JUDGES MAY DISQUALIFY ANY TEAM WHICH IGNORES A REQUEST TO START SPELLING.

  5. Having started to spell a word, a team may stop and start over, retracing the spelling from the beginning, but in retracing there can be no change of letters or their sequence from those first pronounced. If letters or their sequence is changed in the respelling, the speller is eliminated.

  6. The Spelling Bee is conducted in rounds. Each team remaining in the Bee at the start of a round shall spell one word in the round.

  7. Upon missing the spelling of a word, a team is eliminated from the contest (but remains on stage until the end of the round). The next word on the pronouncer's list is given to the next contestant. If none of the teams spell a word correctly during a round, all shall remain in the competition.

  8. The final rounds begin when the field of teams is narrowed to ten or fewer teams. If only one team remaining in the Bee at the start of a round spells a word correctly during that round, that team shall be declared the champion. Otherwise, a new round will begin with remaining teams spelling in their original order.

  9. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and its Addenda Section, copyright 1981 Merriam-Webster Inc., is the final authority on the spelling of words. If more than one spelling is listed for a word, any of these spellings will be accepted as correct if the word either matches the pronunciation and definition provided by the pronouncer, or if it is clearly identified as being a standard variant of the word that the contestant has been asked to spell. Spelling at other locations having archaic, obsolete, or regional labels (such as North, South, British) that are different from those at the main entry will not be accepted as correct.

  10. If a word has one or more homonyms, the pronouncer will indicate which word is to be spelled. If the listed word is not properly identified, either by defining it or by distinguishing the homonyms, any correct spelling of any homonym of the word will be accepted.

  11. The judges are in complete control of the Bee. Their decision shall be final on all questions. If the judges agree there is a stalemate, the judges may declare more than one winner.

Contact us:


Reaching Heights Office: 

2843 Washington Blvd.

Cleveland Heights, OH 44118