The annual Aiken County School District Spelling Bee will be held at the URS Center for the Performing Arts Monday at 7 p.m.

A total of 12 students in grades five through eight from six areas within the county will participate in the contest.

The event is sponsored by the school district, URS and Savannah River Remediation and the Aiken Standard. The Bee is open to the public.

Each participant took either first or second place in their area spelling bees to qualify for the district meet. They are as follows:

• Group 1 – Julian Salas and Victoria Hill, both from Aiken Elementary School.

• Group 2 – Amy Herring, North Augusta Elementary School, and NaTavia Crawford, Mossy Creek Elementary School

• Group 3 – Colton Shealy, Midland Valley Prep, and Megan Schar, Gloverville Elementary School

• Group 4 – Landon Thornton, Aiken Middle School, and Niyah Swinger, North Aiken Elementary School

• Group 5 – Tyriq Carey and Christopher Holley, both from Greendale Elementary School

• Group 6 – Kaylee Westbrook, East Aiken School of the Arts, and Jada Johnson, Millbrook Elementary School

URS and SRR will provide a reception following the competition, catered by Newberry Hall. The companies also will award prizes for the participants.

The Aiken Standard is donating trophies for the first- and second-place winners and is televising the contest.

The district bee is a part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee program. The winner in Aiken will go on to the regional contest in Augusta in early spring, sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle.

Charlie Tyler, a coordinator with the school district's Special Programs department, is directing the bee and is also the pronouncer of the test words.

“I've been involved in the spelling bee for several years,” Tyler said. “It's a wonderful experience to watch the kids. It's a good learning experience for them.”

Tyler said The Augusta Chronicle has established a new policy: Only students educated in public schools can compete in the county event and the regional. The newspaper ruled that some children from non-public school organizations in some counties were already winners in separate contests and should not move on further.

The program participants are King Laurence, the Aiken district's associate superintendent of instruction; Dean Campbell, SRR's public affairs manager; and Melissa Hanna, executive editor of the Aiken Standard.

Six additional students will serve as alternates – Walker Rounsefell, Schofield Middle School; Stephen Havasy, North Augusta Middle School; Anna Sheppard, Clearwater Elementary School; Hadyn Jackson, J.D. Lever Elementary School; Patrick Boatwright, New Ellenton Middle School; and Stephanie Tilson, Kennedy Middle School.