Area students will compete in the 2017 Crawford County Spelling Bee Saturday in Alma for a chance to move on to the state bee in Little Rock.

Alma, Cedarville, Mountainburg, Mulberry-Pleasant View and Van Buren school districts have entered 62 students to compete in this year’s bee, to be held in the Alma Performing Arts Center at 9 a.m.

Jami Anne Balkman, literacy specialist for the Alma School District, serves as the coordinator for the Crawford County Spelling Bee.

Balkman called the Crawford County bee, which is a qualifying bee for the state competition, a county-wide effort.

Generations Bank of Arkansas, the staff of the Alma Performing Arts Center, teachers, families, administrators, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and local libraries all work together to make the event successful, Balkman said.

Winner of the county bee will go on to compete in the statewide bee in March. The state winner will represent Arkansas in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Scripps provides a list of words that will be used during the spelling bees, and students are encouraged to learn and practice these words.

Students study root words, base words and word origins to help themselves be better competitors, Balkman said.

Officials for the 2017 county bee are Ronnie Newton, Alma School Board member, who will serve as this year’s announcer; and Sondra Friend, literacy interventionist, and Michael Hensley, Alma High School English teacher, will serve as judges.

Emily Norton, an Alma Middle School eighth grade student, won the 2016 Crawford County Spelling Bee. It was her second consecutive year to win the bee.

Norton’s winning word was “alligator.”

Gift cards and trophies will be awarded to the 2017 winner and first-runner up by a bank representative from Generations Bank of Arkansas, which is sponsoring the county bee.

Generations Bank also provides T-shirts for all contestants and aids the winner’s family with travel expenses to the Arkansas State Spelling Bee, which will be held in Conway this year.

The 2017 county bee participants are:

Alma Intermediate: Nevaeh Robbins, Caden Farris, Abbi Moore and Madison Downs.

Alma Middle: Maddie Major, Jillian Mills and Molly Smith.

Butterfield Trail Middle: Isabel Hernandez, Brayden Beckham, Mark Null and Leighanne Bonilla.

Cedarville Elementary: Bradley Keeter, Ryleigh Pemberton, Taryn Smith and Rylee Partain.

Cedarville Middle: Aubrey Turner, Lindsey Cook, Reese Giberson and Lilly Evans.

Central Elementary: Ethan Adkerson, Cassidy Cowin, Ethan Downey and Tacoma Schweigert.

City Heights Elementary: Cameron Keller, Ever Gahr, Elizabeth Villanueva and Chloe Shelby.

King Elementary: Leah Smith, Aubrey Marsocci, Havah Weisenfels and Emily Scherrey.

Marvin Primary: Lilly Hayes, Josh Philyaw and Madison Steele.

Millsap Intermediate-Pleasant View Junior High: Gracie Hamilton, Landon Carrier and Rachel Wilmoth.

Mountainburg Elementary: Garrett Walker, Addy Brooks, Kelly Burnett and Paige Seratt.

Mountainburg Middle: Noah Hecox, Wyatt Seratt, Jodin Davidson and Clayton John Buchanan Junior.

Northridge Middle: Harrison Gardner, Aidan Everett, Luke Dunbar and Eli Moad.

Parkview Elementary: Judah Martin, Lillie Daws, Aubrey Pham and Kaden Buker.

Rena Elementary: John-Michael Fisher, Blake Richesin, Christian Woodward and Haileigh Kelly.

Tate Elementary: Alynna Hill, Jaxon Payton, Kassidy Chanthavong and David MacPeek.