Eest Roc Wite Cotes thought their medical spelling knowledge would get them through. 2 Bee or Not 2 Bee came prepared with glittery antennae. The ElizaBEEThans went all out in costume, hoisting on wigs and poofy skirts as good luck charms. Spellaby Street offered bookies — book-themed cookies — along with their immaculately spelled answers.
And the Independent Spellers — that’s three journalists from this esteemed publication, including me — missed delirium. Oops.
These squads lined up to compete in the fourth annual New Haven Reads Spelling Bee, the literacy-based organization’s largest annual fundraiser.
Located at the Yale School of Management and presented by Higher One CARES, this year’s competition drew its largest audience yet this past Friday night, featuring 46 “swarms” of three spellers and raising $30,000. That money will support New Haven Reads’ literacy programs, which currently serve 450 students out of three sites across the city.
“We admire and appreciate the valuable programs that New Haven Reads brings to our community,” said Higher One CARES representative Mary Mumper. “But I’m not just here as a representative of Higher One CARES — I am also a volunteer tutor. And as a tutor, I can tell you that it is by far the best thing I do all week ... the impact that you can have on a child’s life in that one hour is powerful.”
The bee’s festivities — and its participants — celebrated that joy of literacy and learning throughout the evening, honoring the organization’s 400 tutors by lending to words like numismatic and isosceles a sense of complete fun, as even woefully incorrect spellers giggled themselves off the stage at the end of each round.
There were over-the-top costumes ...
... lots of spirit ...
... some errors and some victories ...
... a few standout high school spellers who rocked, tickling judges Stacy Spell, Ray Andrewsen, and Gary Winfield ...
... and a spelltacular victory from one eponymous team.
“I couldn’t make it last year, and this year when I got the email I signed up” said Ellen Schowalter, member of the winning Spelltaculars — who buzzed through anencephalic all the way to numismatic, the final word that clinched the victory — with her mother and husband. “It was fun. I didn’t expect to actually go all the way, but it was fun. If the dates work, I’d love to do it again next year.”
Even NHR Assistant Director Fiona Bradford, busiest bee of the evening, had fun as she flew through the auditorium, making sure that all of the swarms were in place for their turns on the stage.
“We were so delighted that the Spelling Bee was such a huge success. There was so much energy and enthusiasm in the auditorium and we appreciate that so many audience members came out to support their teams and NHR,” she said after the bee. “We loved seeing so many teams in costume — the level seems to go up every year! This event is a great opportunity for New Haven Reads to connect with the community in a different way and spread the word about our programs and the impact we have on our students and families. Plus it is so much fun.”
“We are looking forward to Spelling Bee #5 next October,” she added.
New Haven Reads is in dire need of picture books. To donate any, visit the organization’s website.