This Week: Spelling champions to face off Wednesday

On Wednesday, 66 champion spellers from six counties will face off at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 6151 H St., in their quest to represent the Central Valley at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

The contestests are in fourth to eighth grades, but the words they spell on the fly in competition would flummox most adults. Last year’s winning word was repoussage, a metalworking technique.

Contenders include last year’s champion, Aditya Mishra, now a seventh grader at Olympus Junior High School in Roseville, and Jack Maglalang, a two-time Central Valley champ who now attends eighth grade at Winston Churchill Middle School in Sacramento. Competitors come from Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, Solano and Sutter counties. The last time a local contestant went on to win the national competition was 24 years ago.

Wednesday’s spelling bee is sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California, Sierra Health Foundation, Roseville Toyota and John L. Sullivan Chevrolet. Spelling begins at 9:30 a.m. Spectators are encouraged to come and watch for free.

– Mary Lynne Vellinga


Sacramento students to put history on display

The public is invited to North Natomas’ Inderkum High School, 2500 New Market Drive, on Saturday for Sacramento County History Day. Students in fourth through 12th grades will present projects in six categories based on the theme “Rights and Responsibilities in History.” Documentaries and performance projects can be seen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Exhibits and posters are available for viewing between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Behind the news: The event is part of a National History Day competition that attracts more than half a million students nationally. Students select their topics and research them as historians would – using libraries, archives, museums and oral history interviews. Winners advance to state competition in Riverside in late April.

Info: www.sachistoryday.org or call (916) 808-7072 or (916) 228-2660

UC Davis screens Pacino’s ‘Looking for Richard’

“Looking for Richard,” a 1996 film starring and directed by actor Al Pacino, will be screened at 7 p.m. today at the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall on the UC Davis campus. The film is the second of three movies that the university’s Focus on Film program is showing to explore the theme, “Shakespeare, Self-Directed.” General admission is $10; students, $8; UC Davis students and children, $5.

Behind the news: Bella Merlin, chair of UC Davis’ acting program, will deliver a pre-screening talk at 6:30 p.m. The movie, which also stars Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey, is described on the Internet Movie Database as Pacino’s “deeply felt rumination on Shakespeare’s significance and relevance to the modern world through interviews and an in-depth analysis of ‘Richard III.’ ”

Info: mondaviarts.org/events or call (530) 754-2787

California’s monthly export report due Friday

Despite concerns about wobbly economies in key trading markets, California businesses exported merchandise valued at an all-time record $168.1 billion in 2013. On Friday, Beacon Economics will break down the state’s January 2014 export trade numbers, based on figures compiled by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Info: Check details at www.sacbee.com

Around Town

UC Davis symposium explores ‘Grapes of Wrath’

Along with a new staging of “The Grapes of Wrath” celebrating the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s novel, UC Davis’ Department of Theater and Dance is opening to the public a free symposium on the larger social and cultural issues raised by the book. Various scholars and historians will discuss issues of poverty, the Great Depression and Steinbeck’s cultural influence from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Friday in Lab A of Wright Hall on the UC Davis campus.

Info: arts.ucdavis.edu

Scholar discusses nation’s schools at Crocker speech

As a guest of the Harvard Club of Sacramento, Paul Peterson, the co-author of “Endangering Prosperity – A Global View of the American School,” will speak Thursday at the Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St. in Sacramento, on the nation’s educational system. Peterson holds positions at both Harvard and Stanford universities and is the editor in chief of “Education Next,” a journal of opinion and research. Tickets for his speech, which cost $20, must be purchased in advance.

Info: www.harvardclubofsac.org

Learn how to fix a flat bike tire at Sac State

The California State University, Sacramento, student outdoors club, Peak Adventures, is offering a free clinic on how to fix a flat on both your front and rear bicycle tires, as well as what to pack in a repair kit. The 45-minute clinic at 6 p.m. Thursday is on the Sacramento State campus, 6000 J St. You must at least be 13 years old to attend.

Info: (916) 278-6321 or www.peakadventures.org

Celebrate Arbor Day with a McKinley Park picnic

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is hosting an Arbor Day celebration and community picnic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at McKinley Park, 33rd and H streets in Sacramento. The public is invited to bring a blanket and a lunch to celebrate the city’s urban forest and partake in “tree-related activities and entertainment.” Heavy rain will cancel the event.

Info: www.sactree.com/events or call (916) 974-4318

Sacramento Taiko Dan performs free Wednesday

Sacramento Taiko Dan, the traditional Japanese drumming group, will give a free hourlong performance in the Redwood Room of the University Union at Sacramento State, 6000 J St., at noon on Wednesday in support of International Women’s Day and Women’s HerStory Month.

Info: sacstateunique.com