PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
WHAT: The African American National Spelling Bee Competition, the nation's only spelling competition geared specifically toward African-American students in large, urban centers, will be holding the Philadelphia contest of its first annual spelling bee, on April 21, 2012, at Girard College, at 2101 South College Avenue, here. The Philadelphia competition will include 20 students from three charter schools that are affiliated with the School District of Philadelphia. They are: Ad Prima Charter School, Laboratory Charter School and Planet Abacus Charter School.
Previously, a local competition for the national event was held on April 14, in Los Angeles. Other regional competitions will take place in Atlanta, GA, Houston, TX and Detroit, MI.
The winner, and first and second runner-up of the local Philadelphia competition, will earn the opportunity to compete at the national bee in Houston, TX. Transportation and expenses for the national bee, which is to take place June 16, 2012, will be underwritten by the event sponsors, for each contestant and their guardians.
The African American National Spelling Bee, in its pilot year, aims to bridge the gap in literacy and reading comprehension between African-American children and their white counterparts, and to enhance the peer-level acceptance of spelling, reading and academic pursuits among African-American students, across the nation.
In America, today, as described by Attorney General Eric Holder, at the 2011 Annual National Convention of Black Journalists, black and Hispanic 12th graders are, on average, reading at the same level as white 8th graders.
Also at issue is the pressure among African-American students, in far too many circumstances, to be "academically average." According to Roland G. Fryer, assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, "the popularity of white students increases as their grades increase. For black and Hispanic students, there is a drop off in popularity for those with higher grade point averages."
"Our hope is that, as this competition grows in the years to come, young African American students, as winners and participants, will begin to take greater pride and ownership of literacy-related opportunities and that they will substantially reduce or eliminate the black-white disparity in these areas," said Mariska Bogle, the national coordinator of the African American National Spelling Bee.
"A natural outgrowth of such outcomes, we would also expect," added Ms. Bogle, "will be that our students will begin to experience positive peer-group recognition for their mastery of these subjects. Being a capable speller, speaking well and being able to read at grade-appropriate levels, at that point, will no longer be seen by them as aspiring to white, or non-African-American behaviors.
According to the event's organizers, author, actor and Harvard University law graduate, Hill Harper, is scheduled to attend and offer remarks at the National African American Spelling Bee's final competition in Houston, Texas, on June 16.
In recent years, several other ethnic-specific spelling bees have been established across the nation. They have included, among others, last year's Santillana National Spanish Spelling Bee for Hispanic students, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico; The South Asia Spelling Bee, which was launched in 2008; The Apache County Spelling Bee, for Native American students; and The Polish National Alliance Spelling Bee, now in its 19th year, and open to Polish students.
- 20 Students from Ad Prima Charter School, Laboratory Charter School and Planet Abacus Charter School.
- Mariska K. Bogle, national coordinator, African American National Spelling Bee
- Ava Willis-Barksdale, vice principal, Girard College
- E. Steven Collins, director, Urban Marketing and External Affairs, Radio One Philadelphia
- Dr. Norman Spencer,
- Hon. Blondell Reynolds Brown, councilwoman, City of Philadelphia
- Regine Meellus, CFO & Vice President, the Urban League of Philadelphia
- Antoinette Crawford Major, former regional director, Governor's Office, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- African American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware
- The Urban League of Philadelphia
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Rho Theta Omega Chapter
- Wordly Wise 300
- Roscommon International
Saturday, April 21, 2012
10:00am – 12:00pm
2101 South College Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121
SOURCE African American National Spelling Bee