Twenty students will vie for the championship in the 86th annual Buffalo News Spelling Bee, which gets under way at 1:30 p.m. March 10 in the auditorium of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society.

The 20 in the lineup were selected from among 68 school champions who took a written test Feb. 6.

The winner of the bee, along with an adult escort, will travel on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent The Buffalo News and Western New York in the Scripps National Bee on May 28 through 30. The Buffalo News Spelling Bee champion also receives a $100 cash award, $50 in additional spending money for the trip and an engraved pen-and-pencil set.

The next four finishers receive an engraved pen-and-pencil set, along with the following cash prizes: second, $75; third, $50; fourth, $35; and fifth, $25. A special $25 cash award will be given to the contestant scoring the highest grade on the written test. That prize is announced at the bee.

Other prizes to be given out at the March 10 competition include Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award; Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition; a one-year membership to Britannica Online Premium from Encyclopaedia Britannica; and gifts from the Scripps National Spelling Bee and The Buffalo News. And, in May, all champions from schools registered in The Buffalo News Spelling Bee will receive a dictionary, thesaurus or other reference book from The News. There will also be a certificate of merit for each school runner-up.

The pronouncer for the March 10 bee is Cynthia Pearson, retired English teacher from South Park High School. Judges are Dr. Kathleen Kreis, former director of English and Library Services for the Buffalo Public Schools; Ann Laudisio, principal of Maplemere Elementary School; and Deborah Patti, bee coordinator. Emcee for the competition is Bruce Andriatch, suburban editor and columnist for The Buffalo News. Kreis and Pearson also prepared both the written and oral tests.

Since 1927, The Buffalo News, in cooperation with area schools, has sponsored the spelling bee for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the nine counties of Western New York.

Finalists for the March 10 competition follow:

Rachael Hoh, Livonia Intermediate, Livonia, seventh grade.

Clare Pivarunas, Children of Mary Home School, Elma, eighth grade.

Russell Cunningham, Byron-Bergen Middle, Bergen, eighth grade.

Beatrice Bacon, Royalton Hartland Middle, Middleport, eighth grade

Sachita Barua, Olean Intermediate Middle, Olean, seventh grade.

Zachary Wilson, Lake Shore Central Middle, Angola, seventh grade.

Madeline McCoy, Grace LEAH Home School, Hamburg, seventh grade.

Seth Schrader, Fredonia Middle, Fredonia, seventh grade.

Kristiyan Iliev, Depew Middle, Depew, eighth grade.

Ananya Chakravarti, Transit Middle, East Amherst, seventh grade.

Saloni Kumar, Nichols Middle, Buffalo, seventh grade.

Tyler Paplham, Casey Middle, East Amherst, eighth grade.

Hawraa Ahmed, South Buffalo Charter, Buffalo, seventh grade.

Averey Scoccia, Heim Middle, Amherst, eighth grade.

Jacqueline Richardson, Nardin, Buffalo, eighth grade.

McKenna O’Rourke, St. Christopher, Town of Tonawanda, eighth grade.

Christina Leska-Kent, Mill Middle, Amherst, seventh grade.

Rachel Norman, East Aurora Middle, East Aurora, eighth grade.

Jennifer Darlak, St. Peter’s, Lewiston, eighth grade.

Michael McDonald, Fillmore Central, Fillmore, seventh grade.