BETHLEHEM — Bethlehem Opportunities Unlimited is set to hold its seventh annual community spelling bee on Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bethlehem Central High School cafeteria, with a snow date of Monday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m.
BOU is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to educate local youth about drug and alcohol abuse prevention as well as other similar risky behavior, all while reaching out to students, parents, and the overall community.
This being its biggest fundraising event of the year, around 20 teams — or “swarms” — of three to five members will be able to compete to be the best spellers in town. In the past, many residents, school teachers, small businesses and community groups have participated in the fun. Team members must be aged 13 and older, and make a contribution of $120 to qualify. They are encouraged to dress up in quirky costumes and come up with an appropriate team name too. Teams can buy “lifelines” for $10 each which give them the chance to either use a dictionary or phone a friend for just 30 seconds during the competition if they get stumped on a certain word for instance.
Saying that last year’s event raised around $7,000, BOU President Cindy Ferrari recalled teams who went for the overall bee-theme, like the Hip Bees, a few Eagle Elementary School teachers and staff who dressed in tie dye; BeeWitched, a group from BC Teachers Association who sported witch hats and wands; and the Spelling Beeyonces, who all came from Slingerlands Elementary and wore veils. “No one spells alone,” Ferrari said. “And people get very creative with their outfits and themes. The crowds have been getting bigger in recent years and we generally see a few hundred people attend.”
As of Friday, Feb. 22, Ferrari confirmed that nine teams have signed up so far for this year. Registration and lifeline forms are available on the BOU website at www.bethlehemschools.org/community/bou.
There will also be a silent auction and numerous raffle baskets to further keep the public engaged that night, with chances to win gift cards, tea, honey, mugs, gift certificates, Proctors tickets and Spotlight News subscriptions. The overall event is free and open to the public.
Ferrari said that this nigAll proceeds will be used to give out community-related grants and provide free educational BOU programming. Regarding the former, one can go on BOU’s website to learn more and apply for one. For the latter, such programming happen all year round and mainly are free presentations to the public about topics like cybersafety, mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, addiction, and preparing young students for college.
Saying that the Spelling Bee and its fundraising help BOU to stay connected with the community, Ferrari said that the response from residents through the years “has been amazing and very heartwarming. We really appreciate them.” She also gave a shout out to the event’s numerous sponsors like Bethlehem Town Family Dental and Kinderhook Bank, adding that some have even paid $120 to sponsor a word that is related to their specific profession or industry.
Overall, Ferrari concluded that this annual event “is a nice reflection on the community and I want to thank you all for your continued involvement and being part of a positive thing in our town.”