The Bee Must Go On: Kaplan and Hexco Team Up to Hold Live, Online National Spelling Bee During Week of July 26

Kaplan Inc., a premier provider of educational programs and services, has teamed up with Hexco, Inc., DBA Hexco Academic, to co-host a national online spelling bee during the week of July 26, 2020. The bee will provide an opportunity for the nation’s top spellers to compete online, giving priority to eighth-grade students who were scheduled to spell at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. Hexco, a 50-year-old company, has provided materials for National Spelling Bee contestants for 38 years.

The online spelling bee will utilize computerized quizzes as well as oral spelling rounds in which contestants will spell words out loud. Vocabulary rounds and tiebreaker tests will also be included. Cash prizes and trophies will be given to the top three spellers and medals will be awarded to the finalists. The 2017 National Spelling Bee Champion, Ananya Vinay, who correctly spelled the word “marocain” (a type of dress fabric), will serve as pronouncer in Round One. In 2018, Ananya joined SpellGenius by Mathus Academy to work as a spelling coach, while attending high school.

The award prizes for top competitors are subject to be increased, but the minimum prizes to be awarded by Hexco are: Champion (1st Place), $10,000; 1st Runner-Up (2nd Place), $4,000; 2nd Runner-Up (3rd Place), $1,500. Winners will also be granted free access to Kaplan’s PSAT, SAT and ACT test prep programs. With just a few weeks to organize this first-rate online spelling bee, Hexco is seeking additional support to reach its enrollment goal of a few hundred participants and increase prizes amounts for the winners, all of whom will have prepared for the competition under unprecedentedly challenging circumstances. Sponsors will be recognized on the competition’s website as well as on Hexco’s social media pages.

“We know just how important the bee is to young spellers and thought it was imperative to give them a chance to compete in something that gives them such pride and joy every year. Kaplan is excited to partner with Hexco, which has such a rich tradition of helping spellers be their best selves, to bring the bee to a new, live, online format. We are looking forward to delivering an unforgettable experience to competitors and viewers,”

said Dennis Yim, director of academics, Kaplan.

Pronouncers are David Riddle and Charlie Underwood. Riddle of Pacific Grove, CA, is a National Senior Spelling Bee Champion, former Hexco spelling coach, and retired lawyer. He coached his son for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2004 and has served as pronouncer in over 50 adult and student spelling bees. Underwood of Auburn, PA, has coached spellers for 32 years and serves as pronouncer for the spelling bee sponsored by the Republican-Herald newspaper of Pottsville, PA. Winner of the 2005 Pennsylvania State Senior Spelling Bee championship, Underwood is a retired teacher, administrator, and adjunct instructor who has coached 15 spellers to compete at the national level.

“These challenging times provide a unique opportunity to inspire a new generation,” said Linda Tarrant, President of Hexco, Inc. “Kaplan’s capacity to facilitate a highly professional virtual stage experience, combined with (our) decades of spelling bee involvement, gives us great confidence that our collaborative online spelling bee will honor the hard work and study by some of the brightest young minds today.”

“While I was sad to hear that the in-person National Spelling Bee was cancelled, I am excited to be a part of this live, online spelling bee and pronounce in Round One,” Ananya said. “This is a great opportunity for all spellers to test their skills and have fun!”

In 2019, Hexco celebrated 22 years of consecutive spelling champions who used Hexco study products. Hexco has provided direct support for two other national spelling contests─North South Foundation and the South Asian Spelling Bee─and has participated in the production of two well-known spelling bee documentaries. The company was the first to launch a professional Personal Spelling Coach (PSC) program and has since added numerous online spelling courses which include “spell bees” as well as one-on-one tutoring.

Anyone who has not reached the age of 15 on or before August 31, 2020, and has not passed the eighth grade by the end of the 2019-20 school year, may register. The entrance fee is $125 and registration is open until July 19, 2020, or, until full capacity is reached.

For rules, or more information on registering or becoming a prize sponsor or student sponsor, please visit For press inquiries, contact Russell Schaffer at