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A New Spelling Champ!

Twelve-year-old Bruhat Soma is the winner of the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

A man in a suit and headset gives Bruhat Soma a trophy as confetti flies through the air.

© Jack Gruber/USA TODAY NETWORK

Twelve-year-old Bruhat Soma receives his trophy after winning the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Bruhat Soma is a champion! The 12-year-old from Tampa, Florida, won the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee. The winning word was abseil.

In spelling bees, contestants take turns trying to spell words they are given. If they spell the word correctly, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, they stay in the bee. If not, they are out of the contest. As the bee continues, there are fewer and fewer spellers. The last speller left wins.

The Scripps spelling bee is the largest in the United States. The three-day contest is for top spellers who are under 16 and have not yet finished 8th grade. To participate, each speller must first win a regional spelling bee, competing against kids their age in their area. This year’s bee, which ended on May 30, began with 245 spellers.

Bruhat Soma and Faizan Zaki shake hands on stage.

© Jack Gruber/USA TODAY NETWORK

2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee runner-up Faisan Zaki (right) congratulates Bruhat Soma on his victory.

For only the second time in the 96-year history of the Scripps spelling bee, the contest ended with a spell-off, which occurs only if there’s a tie in the final round. During a spell-off, each speller tries to spell as many words as possible in 90 seconds. Whoever spells the most words wins. Twelve-year-old Faizan Zaki of Texas spelled 20 words correctly. Bruhat spelled 29 words and was declared the winner. He received a trophy and $50,000!

“Well, I’m really excited,” Bruhat said afterward. “It’s been my goal for this past year to win, and I’ve been working really hard, so I just put a lot of time into spelling, and then now I’m really happy that I won. Like, I really can’t describe it. I’m still shaking.”

The dictionary definition of abseil is shown next to a photo of a woman abseiling.

© Yuri Arcurs/Dreamstime.com; Photo illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

NEWS EXTRA!

The Grandmother of Juneteenth

Opal Lee smiles at the presidential podium as Kamala Harris smiles behind her.

© Elizabeth Frantz—The Washington Post/Getty Images

In this 2023 photo, U.S. vice president Kamala Harris (left) helps Opal Lee to the podium so she can speak at a Juneteenth concert in Washington, D.C.

​​On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas to tell the state’s enslaved people they were free. That was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had freed all enslaved people in the South. In Texas, June 19 became known as Juneteenth. Juneteenth is now a national holiday, thanks to a retired teacher named Opal Lee. 

In 2016, at the age of 89, Lee set out to walk from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C. Her goal was to gather support for making Juneteenth a national holiday. Lee walked 2.5 miles per day. She chose that distance because it took two and a half years for the enslaved people of Texas to receive the news that they were free. 

The walk was the start of a long effort. Lee eventually collected more than 1.5 million signatures and presented them to Congress. In 2021, members of Congress voted to make Juneteenth a national holiday, and President Joe Biden signed it into law. 

In 2024, Opal Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Today, she is known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.” 

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Did You Know?

Men, women, and children in 19th century clothing are in a room peeling and coring apples and dancing.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1936 (36.13.8(1)); www.metmuseum.org

This engraving by the artist Winslow Homer shows what an apple bee might have looked like in the 1800s.

When we read the word bee, most of us think of a buzzing insect. But the word can also be used to mean a gathering of any kind of a certain purpose. A bee is usually a way to finish a task faster by working together. Bees can also be a lot of fun. Here are a few examples.

Quilting Bee: People work together to make one or more quilts.

Roofing Bee: People work together to repair or replace a neighbor’s roof.

Apple Bee: People help a farmer harvest apples.

Logging Bee: People clear part of a forest so that crops can be planted.

I Want to BEE Alone!

Composite showing building materials, a completed bee sanctuary, and bees making use of hollow sticks

© lcrms, fcerez/stock.adobe.com, © Radarman70, SappheirosPhoto/Dreamstime.com; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Did you know that most bees are solitary, meaning they live alone? Like honeybees and other bees that live in hives, solitary bees are important pollinators.

Female solitary bees build nests in underground burrows or hollow branches and plant stems. They collect pollen and nectar and place it inside the nest. Then they lay a single egg and seal up the nest. When the egg hatches, the young bee will develop on its own, eating the food the mother bee left behind. 

Nature can provide the perfect place for solitary bees to build their nests. But when people want to attract bees to their land, they may build structures, using wood or even old containers or pipes, where solitary bees can safely lay their eggs. The photos above show some examples.

More About Juneteenth

Composite photo of people celebrating Juneteenth, including dancing and marching.

© Dylan Buell, Go Nakamura, Brandon Bell/Getty Images

On June 19, people in the United States mark a holiday called Juneteenth. What’s the story behind Juneteenth?

You might know that in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln freed most people who were enslaved. But it took a long time for the news to reach some parts of the country. On June 19, 1865, U.S. soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and told the city’s enslaved people that they were free.

You can learn more about Juneteenth at Britannica.

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Word of the Day

competition

Part of speech:

noun

Definition:

: the act or process of trying to get or win something (such as a prize or a higher level of success) that someone else is also trying to get or win : the act or process of competing

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