We lost a great American champion this week. Frank Neuhauser has passed.
In 1925, Frank was just eleven years old when he correctly spelled the word 'gladiolus' and won America's first-ever National Spelling Bee. His victory earned Frank $500 in gold (equal to about $50,000 today), a new bike, and an invitation to the White House where he met President Calvin Coolidge. Frank Neuhauser, our first national champ, served his country and went on to earn a law degree, working for decades in the intellectual property world as a patent attorney. He was 97.
Thanks to corporate support from media conglomerate Scripps-Howard and bolstered live TV coverage, the National Spelling Bee continues. The current winner receives a prize package of cash and savings bonds worth nearly $40,000, but sadly that package no longer includes an invite to the Rose Garden to meet the President.
I'm thinking the 'Spell Check Generation' might benefit from some added interest in spelling. To those who say, 'What's the point? Let the computer do it.' Spelling teaches kids to recognize patterns, word structure and word word origins, as well as learning more about the subtle nuances of their language.
This president spends a great deal of time on the stump talking about education. Mr. Obama might inspire a little more interest in education by adding the Presidential Photo Op to the prize package of the next Spelling Bee.