Meet 17 Texans With Bigger Vocabularies Than You Competing In The Scripps Spelling Bee | KERA News

Meet 17 Texans With Bigger Vocabularies Than You Competing In The Scripps Spelling Bee

May 31, 2017

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Young Texans are competing in the national spelling bee; check in with New Hope’s openly transgender mayor; the Cliburn runs on volunteers; and more.

The word “maintenance” is the hardest for Texans to spell, according to Google. That’s likely not the case for the 17 young Texans competing this week in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Texas is known to be a competitive state in the annual bee. Last year, Nihar Saireddy Janga from Austin was co-winner with Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar. Being just 11 at the time, Janga was the youngest speller to make the top 10, NPR reports. And don't forget the six-year-old from San Angelo, who was the youngest speller overall in 2016.


It was the third straight year the bee had two winners. Hoping to discontinue the trend, Scripps officials have changed the rules a bit, creating an effective tie-breaker.


Texans ages 9 to 14 are spelling their hearts out this morning and afternoon in the preliminary rounds. Then, finals are tomorrow. You can watch the bee on E-S-P-N. [KERA News]

  • It’s been five months since the mayor of New Hope came out as transgender in an open letter. After Jess Herbst shared the personal news with her constituents in the Collin County town of 700, the story traveled far — and fast. But, as D Magazine reports, “There was no outcry, no wringing of hands” from the New Hope community, but rather “support for a person they’d known for years and who had served them almost as long.” Herbst took her first steps as Jess years ago, and now she’s the first openly transgender mayor in Texas. [D Magazine]


  • There’s a new farmers market in town that serves a Dallas neighborhood where fresh food is hard to find. Paul Quinn College in southern Dallas turned its football field into an organic farm in 2010. The produce is regularly donated or sold to restaurants and grocery stores. Now, Paul Quinn and its new partner Good Local Markets have established a weekly farmers market on campus. The partnership is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The market is open 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday through fall. Find it east of the main entrance at 3837 Simpson Stuart Road. [The Dallas Morning News]


  • This Dallas cellist was classical through and through until she was schooled on jazz. Now, Brianne Sargent has co-written more than 100 songs for Skinny Cooks, the jazz-funk fusion band she co-founded with Nigel Newton. Sargent picked up the electric bass in college after her friends gave her immediate, immersion course in Coltrane, Coleman and Clarke. “Tell a classical musician to improvise and he’ll most likely just look at you,” she says about the transition from Bach to funk. Now, she’s learned how to wing it. Get to know her in the Artist Spotlight. [Art&Seek]

  • Not a single Cliburn has been held without the help of one Fort Worth volunteer. Every four years, scores of helping hands pitch in to make The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition run smoothly. Tina Gorski has been a volunteer since the beginning of the Cliburn in 1962, when she was 12. This year, more than 1,000 volunteers are handing out programs, managing VIPs and hosting pianists from around the world for the 15th competition. The Cliburn runs through June 10 — watch performances live. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

The High Five is KERA’s daily roundup of stories from Dallas-Fort Worth and across the state. Explore our archives here. And sign up for our weekly email for the North Texas news you need to know.