NORTH WEBSTER – The buzz is building for this year’s Kosciusko County Annual Spelling Bee.
It only took a total of 13 rounds in 2012 for Tippecanoe Valley Middle School seventh-grader Riley Weitzel to win the  spelling bee.
He won in seven rounds against Warsaw Christian School sixth-grader Brianna Pitts, who won the elementary school division two nights before. Weitzel won the middle school division in six rounds.
This year’s spelling bee contest starts Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the North Webster Elementary School gymnasium. Fifth- and sixth-graders will vie for the elementary school division title as well as one of two $2,500 Richard R. Long Scholarships.
The middle school division starts at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at North Webster.
Following the spelling bee for seventh- and eighth-graders, the two division contestants will face off for the county spelling bee title.
The make-up day is set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at North Webster Elementary.
Schools must complete their individual spelling bees by Wednesday.
The winner of the Feb. 5 championship bee will advance to the 59th annual regional Journal Gazette Spelling Bee, scheduled for 10 a.m. March 9 at the Auer Auditorium in the IPFW Rhinehart Music Center in Fort Wayne.
Judges for this year’s spelling bee will be Doug Hoffert, retired Madison Elementary School teacher; Pam Long, North Webster Community Public Library librarian; and Ann Haffner. Recorder will again be Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee Schools superintendent, and Dr. James Bowling, Grace College, will serve as pronouncer.
North Webster Elementary School is at 5745 N. CR 750E, North Webster.
The Richard R. Long Scholarship is given in recognition of Long’s many years of service to the children, teachers and parents of North Webster School and in honor of his work for the International Palace of Sports, now known as the Shoop Sports and Youth Foundation.
The Shoop Foundation funds the spelling bee scholarships to help provide future higher education for the spelling bee winners.