Spelling Bee F-U-N in Suffolk

Published 10:32 pm Friday, January 31, 2020

Suffolk’s best spellers need to find their best costumes and get ready to “sting” the competition at the Suffolk Education Foundation’s Grown-Up Spelling Bee spelling bee this month.

The fourth annual Grown Up Spelling Bee will be held on Feb. 29 at King’s Fork High School. This competitive event benefits the Suffolk Education Foundation.

“Nearly all the money raised goes directly back into the mission of the Suffolk Education Foundation,” Suffolk Education Foundation President Patrick Belcher wrote in an email. “It’s making a difference with our staff and students in the classroom. Whether its ukuleles or alternative seating or robotics, there is evidence everywhere of the difference made by SEF thanks to our community.”

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Teams of three adults will work together to spell words and compete for the coveted “Best Spellers in Suffolk” title. Last year, the ArchiTexts of RRMM Architects and Associates narrowly defeated the Typographical Airers of the Suffolk News-Herald on the final word: “vassalage.”

“Competing in the Grown-Up Spelling Bee brings out the kid in everyone,” Suffolk Education Foundation Administrator Bethanne Bradshaw wrote in an email. “Who doesn’t remember the triumph of victory and the agony of defeat during those elementary school spelling bees? It’s a chance to relive the glory or to prove to yourself that spelling will not be your enemy forever.”

Teams can purchase “lifelines” until 15 minutes before the competition begins. Each team may purchase only one “Stinger,” two “Spell Checks” and one “Fly Over.”

The Stinger allows a team to pass a word that it receives to a different team, and if the team that gets stung also possesses a Stinger pass, then that team may use its own Stinger to pass the word to a different team.

“However, you can’t sting a team that has already been stung or that has used its Stinger on that word,” Bradshaw wrote.

“When a team uses its Stinger, it receives credit for spelling the word correctly and will advance to the next round,” Bradshaw continued. “If every team gets stung on the same word and the last team has a Stinger it wants to use but has no one available to sting, that team may forfeit its Stinger pass to remain in the competition.”

Spell Checks give a team a second shot at spelling a word if it was misspelled the first time. A team may use both Spell Check passes in the same round, but if the team is unsuccessful in spelling the word after using both Spell Checks, then that team will be eliminated, even if it has other unused lifelines.

A Fly Over allows a team to “pass” on a word and not have to spell it. The word is discarded and the team will be given a new word to spell. If the team misspells the replacement word, then that team will be eliminated, even if it has other unused lifelines.

Only one lifeline is allowed per team per round, and the team must present the lifeline to the emcee before using the pass. When only two teams remain in the bee, lifelines may not be used. All unused lifelines will be forfeited when a team is eliminated, and they may not be shared with other teams.

Spectators will also vote on the best team costumes at the competition — the more creative, the better!

“Creating a team name and theme costume is also super fun … and we all need more joy in our lives, right? Audience members also love to play along, cheering on their favorite team. It is a great way to (build) company or school spirit, whether you’re competing or watching,” Bradshaw wrote.

The Grown-Up Spelling Bee competition on Feb. 29 will begin at 2 p.m. at King’s Fork High School, 351 Kings Fork Road.

Teams and organizations must register by Feb. 10, and rosters and team names must be finalized by Feb. 17. Corporate sponsors may present their own team or fund a team of Suffolk Public Schools employees, and sponsors are encouraged to register by Feb. 17.

A pre-event luncheon for teams will be held to review competition rules and meet corporate sponsors.

Visit suffolkeducationfoundation.org to register or sponsor a team, buy tickets and learn more about the competition, as well as the various Suffolk Education Foundation sponsorship opportunities.