Elizabeth Thompson, Grace St. Luke’s fifth-grader, wins 2021 Shelby County Spelling Bee

March 23, 2021 — Elizabeth Thompson, a fifth-grader from Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal School, won the 2021 Shelby County Spelling Bee that was held virtually this past weekend. It marked the third-straight year the Bee was sponsored by the University of Memphis.

Thompson correctly spelled 48 of 50 words, four more than fourth-grader Sophia Carter of E.A. Harrold Elementary School. Dorian Vail, a fourth-grader from Vollentine Elementary School, finished third, spelling 42 of 50 words correctly.

The only two words Thompson misspelled were denouement and travails while Carter missed acquiesce, denouement, interregnum, doldrums, buffoonery and akimbo.

Thirty-six school champions participated in the virtual Bee.

Thompson will receive a trophy in addition to The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award – a 2021 United States Mint Proof Set; a one-year subscription to Britannica Online Premium; and a one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, the official dictionary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The Scripps online testing platform was used, consisting of 50 spelling words with a 30-minute time limit where the spellers were required to type out their spelling. The online platform featured built-in pronouncing by the official Scripps pronouncer, Dr. Jacques Bailly.

Thompson will continue to try to advance to The Scripps National Spelling Bee with top spellers from across the United States and the globe gathering near Orlando, Fla., on July 8 to compete in the nationally televised event.

The final rounds of this year’s Bee will be hosted in person at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. The finals, featuring 10-12 accomplished spellers, will be broadcast live in primetime on ESPN2.

The 10-12 finalists who will travel to the Orlando area will have earned the right to compete in the finals by advancing through three levels of competition: the preliminary, quarterfinal and semifinal segments. In past years, those three rounds were held over one week – Bee Week.

This year, due to the global pandemic, the preliminaries, quarterfinals and semifinals will be held virtually in the weeks leading up to the July 8 finals and will be broadcast live on ESPN platforms. The semifinals are on June 27 while dates for the earlier virtual rounds of the competition will be announced this spring.

For more information, please go to spellingbee.com.