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History of the Denver Public Schools at the Colorado State Spelling Bee

     On Friday, April 29, 1938, the first Rocky Mountain News state-wide spelling bee was held.  Weeks before, students all over Colorado took 100-word written spelling tests.  The 82 students with the highest scores represented their public and parochial districts in an oral spelling bee held at the Denver City Auditorium.  Forty-nine students were eliminated during the morning session which was broadcast on KLZ radio.  The pronouncer was KLZ's Wes Patterson.

     Students living outside Denver stayed at the Brown Palace Hotel.  Contestants were given a tour of Denver by Glenn Q. Smith of the Denver Cab Company.  A luncheon was held at the Hoft-Schroeder Cafeteria for spellers and their families.  Herrick Roth of Denver University, Dr. Elwood Moran, and Campton Bell alternated as pronouncers during the afternoon finals.  Prize money was awarded to the top five finishers:  $100 for 1st place, $50 for second place, $25 for 3rd place, $12.50 for 4th, and $5 for 5th place.  Fifth place finisher, Louis Trujillo of Trinidad stated, "I'm going to use my $5 as a down payment for a bicycle."

     Honoring the spellers at the bee were Colorado governor, Elias M. Ammons, and Denver mayor, Benjamin Stapleton.  When Loretta Quinn of Presentation Catholic School in Denver correctly spelled "equanimity" and "occasion," she became the first Colorado spelling champion.  Loretta and her family were sent to Washington, D. C., to represent Colorado and the Rocky Mountain News at the National Spelling Bee.  The annual tradition of the Colorado State Spelling Bee was born.  Click at right for a list of past champions, runners-up, the winning words, and finalists representing the Denver Public Schools.  



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