10/12/07 — Wayne Country Day team wins spelling bee

View Archive

Wayne Country Day team wins spelling bee

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 12, 2007 2:21 PM

Walnut Creek Country Club was abuzz Thursday night as a fight-to-the-finish word match drew to a close.

The sixth annual spelling bee, hosted by the Wayne Charitable Partnership, a non-profit arm of Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, came down to first-time contestants from Wayne Country Day School -- "Mayberry RFB," featuring a team decked out like characters from "The Andy Griffith Show."

"We went into it blind," said Barbara Ann Vinson of WCDS, who coordinated the school's team. Only one member, captain Cathie Hooks, had previously participated, she said.

Six school staffers comprised the team, but only four -- Mrs. Hooks, Diane Price, Pam Diffee and Cindy Holloman -- were "active spellers," Ms. Vinson said.

"They were scared to substitute. The other two (Jill Williams, school librarian, and Jill Williams, guidance counselor) kept offering to jump in, but the team was scared to jinx it," she explained.

Frema Motors sponsored the team, with others donating "honey money," Ms. Vinson said. It came in handy in a pinch, she added.

"We raised money to buy words if we missed them. We really did not miss a whole lot, didn't have to buy but one in the first round, maybe two or three in the second," she said.

Things heated up at the end, though, said Dr. Ken Benton, one of the event's organizers.

"Vanna Bee," played by Olivia Pierce of Wayne County Public Schools, was in charge of providing the words, which got progressively harder as the night unfolded. At the outset, words could be purchased at a friendly $25 or $50, Benton said, but then the stakes were raised.

By the time teams had been pared down to the final two -- Wayne Country Day and The Pines of Goldsboro -- in the seventh, tie-breaking round, teams had to pay $200 a word, he said.

"We were just about out of money. We had tapped about everybody," Ms. Vinson said. "We had to raise the money right there on the spot at the end."

It paid off, literally, and the WCDS team received the winning trophy.

The Pines of Goldsboro came in second. Its team name was "Leave it to Bee-ver."

Other prizes were awarded to North Drive Elementary School, receiving the Frank Tillman Spirit Award and best costume for the "Wizwords of Oz" team. Best table decor award went to Norwayne Middle School, for its "Hooked on Phonics" team.

Fremont STARS Elementary School won the night's drawing for a $1,000 teacher grant.

The event raised $21,000, a slight drop from last year's bee, which had 14 teams and netted $23,000, Benton said.

Janet Brock of the Chamber, another of the event's organizers, called it a fantastic event.

"The number of teams may have been down, but the spririt was definitely not down," she said. "The crowd was rocking that club last night. There was a lot of energy."

Proceeds go toward mini grants for teachers, teacher recruitment efforts and the Junior Leadership of Wayne County program.