C.E. Williams’ Keerthana Samuel defends CCSD Spelling Bee crown with virtual victory

February 25, 2021

C.E. Williams Middle School’s Keerthana Samuel wasn’t able to go to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the 2020 Charleston County School District (CCSD) Spelling Bee and Post and Courier Spellbound! champion has another shot to compete at the national level this year. The seventh-grader captured her second straight district title by winning the virtual event last week.

CCSD made an abrupt pivot to host the annual spelling bee contest online on Thursday, February 11, 2021 rather than in-person. In an abundance of caution, it was determined that an online competition platform, designed by Scripts International, would be the safest avenue.

One fifth grader from each elementary school and one student from each middle school earned a chance to compete in the CCSD competition. At the school level, administrators could conduct a socially-distanced, in-person format or an online format.

CCSD’s online completion was structured much like a traditional in-person competition. Students had 30 minutes to spell 25 words. The online format allowed the student to hear the word, see the word on their computer screen, and then provided the words origin, part of speech, and a sentence that the word could be used.

Samuel was able to spell almost every word correctly, making her the clear winner.

Normally, the top-18 finishers in the CCSD Spelling Bee advance to the Post and Courier’s Spellbound! event. Due to the pandemic, the top five from this year’s district spelling bee are going to the regional competition.

Maxwell Peters (Thomas C. Cario Middle School), Jordan Bazzle (Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School), Jadyn Rene (Moultrie Middle School), and Jonathan Lonon (Buist Academy) will join Samuel on Thursday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. (location to be determined) to face the top spellers from the tricounty region. The winner advances to the 2021 Scripps National Bee which returns this year with top spellers from across the U.S. and the globe gathering near Orlando, Florida, on July 8, 2021 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 primetime on ESPN2.

The 10 to 12 finalists who will travel to Orlando, will have earned the right to compete in the finals by advancing through three levels of virtual competition: the preliminary, quarterfinal, and semifinal segments.


About the Charleston County School District

Charleston County School District (CCSD) is a nationally-accredited school district that is committed to providing equitable and quality educational opportunities for all of its students. CCSD is the second-largest school system in South Carolina and represents a unique blend of urban, suburban, and rural schools spanning 1,300 square miles along the coast. CCSD serves more than 50,000 students in 87 schools and specialized programs.

CCSD offers a diverse, expanding portfolio of options and specialized programs, delivered through neighborhood, magnet, IB (international baccalaureate), Montessori, and charter schools. Options include programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); music and other creative and performing arts; career and technical preparation programs; and military.