Struggling spellers who may have fantasized about getting even with a demanding English teacher will have their chance at revenge, as educators are set to take on Bethlehem residents in the inaugural Community Spelling Bee.
The event is being sponsored by Bethlehem Opportunities Unlimited, a local nonprofit group that funds youth activities and alcohol and drug prevention education to teens. The spelling bee is meant to be the group’s main fundraiser of the year, and takes the place of the “March Madness” faculty basketball game that is now sponsored by the Bethlehem Central Community Foundation.
“We usually sponsor the basketball classic but we wanted to do something a little different that would not only involve teachers and students, but also the greater community,” said BOU Co-President Jayne Deane-White.
The group decided to move away from the basketball event because many felt the game was getting too competitive. Deane-White said one of the organization’s goals is to promote education, and members wanted to focus on an event that would intellectually challenge participants.
Deane-White said a fellow board member suggested a spelling bee after a member of her family successfully ran a similar event as a fundraiser in Connecticut. So far, 14 groups have registered to participate in the bee. BC teachers and administrative staff at all levels have signed on, as have employees from local businesses like Price Chopper and Kinderhook Bank and members of town government.
All participants are asked to work in teams of three to five members, and are encouraged to wear matching uniforms. At the bee, each team captain will be deemed the designated speller, but team members will be allowed to give their advice. The words are to be written out on a large white board, and each team will have 60 seconds after the second pronunciation of the word to spell it correctly.
The teams will be asked to spell 12 words in two preliminary rounds, and teams will be eliminated for misspelled words. The two winning teams from each round will then move on to the quarterfinals and finals, where they will spell five words each. BC Superintendent Tom Douglas will participate on the judges panel.
BOU is hoping the event turns out to be successful financially. A team in the competition can be sponsored by a local organization for $100 and companies or groups may also pay $75 to sponsor a word.
“These words aren’t going to be easy,” Deane-White said. “We had a local dental practice sponsor a word from the dental field, so participants are going to have to bring their thinking caps.”
She added for those who don’t want to compete in the bee, BOU is hoping the community will come out to watch and show their support for their favorite team.
“We’re hoping to sponsor a friendly competition that will become popular and turn into an annual event,” said Deane-White.
Refreshments will be served at the event and a 50/50 raffle will be held.
Teams can register to participate in the spelling bee until Wednesday, March 20. The competition will take place the following week on Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m., in the BC Middle School auditorium. Admission is $3 for students, seniors and veterans, $5 for adults and $10 for a family.
For more information, email [email protected], or visit the BOU web page on the Bethlehem Central School District website.