Community spirit triumphs at ‘Beginning Life with Books’ bee

Mar. 25, 2014 @ 08:36 PM

Dissipating (dispersing) into the selenian (of-the-moon) light Monday night, many losing spelling bee teams probably wanted a mulligan (second chance). But hopefully, no choleric (bad-tempered) spellers excoriated (severely criticized) or even caviled (made petty objections to) their more lugubrious (sad-looking) teammates for having misspelled words like these.

The 15th annual Beginning Life with Books Spelling Bee raised more than $6,000 for the local Delta Rho chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, a sorority for retired educators. The local ladies use the funds raised by this spelling bee to buy copies of the classic children’s book “Goodnight Moon,” as well as a pamphlet on getting kids to read, to give to the parents of every baby born at Central Carolina Hospital.

Reinette Seaman, who emceed the bee, said Tuesday that they had raised $6,400 from team entries in addition to an as-yet unknown amount of money from donations at the event.

Seaman has been heavily involved in the spelling bee for years — the Jonesboro United Methodist Church men’s team call themselves “Jerry’s Jesters” in honor of her late husband — and she ran the event with dry wit, commenting on team names and reminding the spellers that “these words come from the dictionary by Scripps, which puts on the spelling bee for children.”

In addition to the teams entered from churches, businesses and families from the area were three teams from the local high schools full of precocious (another word from Monday’s bee, meaning advanced for their age) youngsters — although they were all outlasted by the adults Monday.

The team of Central Carolina Community College employees came in first, showing the meaning of higher education. The “Gud Spelarz” team from Pfizer wasn’t quite “gud” enough, falling on a word, ditokous (having two offspring at the same time), that both they and the Cougars misspelled. But it was Pfizer’s fourth misspelled word of the night, meaning elimination for them and not for CCCC, which had only spelled three words incorrectly.

“It was fun,” said Rebecca Howington, an administrative assistant from CCCC who captained the team to victory in her first ever spelling bee. “I’d do it again, for sure. It’s for a great cause, too.”

In addition to Howington, the winning team consisted of professor Paul Haspel — whose last name was, ironically, spelled wrong on his name tag — as well as Dean of Student Learning Brian Merritt and Amanda Carter, the director of distance education and instructional technology.

Last year’s winning team, from the charity Willing Hands, lasted into the final handful of teams. But perennial powerhouse Trinity Lutheran Church, which won every year from 2008-12 and came in second last year, was out of the running relatively early on.

The team from First Calvary Baptist Church might not have good reminiscences (memories) of that word, which bounced them from the competition late in the game, and the judge who dismissed the Southern Lee team appropriately used a Southern colloquialism (informal, conversational word) when they missed that word and she had to pop their final balloon — which is how score was kept — and said, “Nice to see y’all.”

Perhaps they and other losing teams went out for some placatory (intended to soothe anger) struesel (a German pastry). Or maybe they visited a hassock (the cushion for kneeling in church) to ask for providence (divine guidance) next year. Perhaps others gave a eulogy (praise for the dead) to their team’s dashed hopes, or found hints of koan (a paradox to be meditated upon in Zen Buddhism, in hopes of gaining enlightenment) in their struggles.