Bravo to Emily Braun for winning The Bee, The Missourian’s annual spelling bee competition, Saturday morning for the second year in a row.

The eighth-grade student from Union Middle School displayed steely reserve as she calmly spelled her way to a repeat victory.

The lights were bright on the John E. Anglin Performing Arts Center stage at East Central College (ECC) where the competition was held and so were the performances by Braun and all 40 students who competed.

It takes guts to stand on a big stage in front of a large crowd and spell words. Braun and the rest of the participants made it look easy.

All of the participants in Saturday’s competition were already spelling bee champions. Each previously won their classroom and their school’s spelling bee for the right to compete in Saturday’s regional competition.

The Bee, now in its fourth year, continues to grow both in terms of participants and in prestige. That is due to the tireless efforts of The Bee Steering Committee, The Bee officials and Dawn Kitchell, Missourian Newspaper in Education coordinator and emcee for the event.

We are especially grateful for the support of East Central College and Greg Hoberock, president of hth Companies, which sponsored The Bee. Both are longtime advocates of literacy — ECC in a very public way and Hoberock who often works behind the scenes supporting education causes.

The Bee would not be possible without their contributions and commitments. The same could be said for the teachers and administrators who teach spelling each day in the classroom and who provide continuous encouragement and inspiration for the students.

But more than anything, the students who participated in The Bee are to be commended for aspiring to be good practitioners of spelling. As we have noted before, spelling has become something of a lost art in this era of spell check on computers and smartphones. Some argue technology has rendered spelling aptitude obsolete.

But make no mistake, spelling still matters.

We heard that message loud and clear from area business leaders recently who convened to advise ECC faculty in planning the curriculum for future job-ready business major students.

They urged college officials to incorporate more English classes in the curriculum because the young people they were interviewing for jobs struggled with basic communication skills, including writing and spelling.

Without question the ability to spell words correctly is an essential skill in helping anyone be a successful communicator in business or in society.

So congratulations to Braun for winning The Bee and to all of the participants who competed Saturday morning. We have a feeling your appreciation for and love of language will serve you well in your career and in life.