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Moorhen.

M-O-O-R-H-E-N.

That seemingly simple word was what clinched the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee for a 14-year-old Texas girl in June.

Harani Logan correctly spelled 22 of 26 words in a “spell-off,” in order to break a tie among several contestants.

Now, students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 can aim for the same national championship … that’s C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N-S-H-I-P.

Beginning the week of Jan. 16th, District 65 students in grades 4-8 can voluntarily take part in classroom bees, with school-wide and then district-wide events over subsequent weeks for the winners.

Superintendent Devon Horton says the district champ will then receive a sponsored trip to take part in the Scripps National event in May in Washington, D.C.

There is also a trip available to the Spanish National Spelling bee in the summer.

In a message on the District 65 website, Horton says by participating in the spelling bee, “students will develop self-confidence, communication and public speaking skills, and hone their ability to thrive under pressure.”

With the exception of the “spell-off” to break a tie in the national finals, spelling bees are “one and done.” Spell the word wrong, and you’re O-U-T.

By the way, the term “bee” has nothing to do with pollinating insects, bumble, honey, or otherwise.

According to spellingbee.com, in this case the word “bee” means “a community social gathering at which friends and neighbors join together for a single activity,” such as a quilting bee, sewing bee, or, presumably, a spelling bee.

“Bee” may actually “be” derived from the Middle English word “bene,” which means a “prayer” or a “favor.”

It was the luck of the draw that something simple such as “moorhen” (an acquatic bird) ended up as the winning word in 2022.

In previous years, according to USA Today, several earlier-round words included “parvenusium,” “plumbiferous,” and “xenarthra.”

The national winner receives a $50,000 prize, which is usually spelled A L-O-T O-F M-O-N-E-Y.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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