10/22/09 — 'Buzz' picked to patrol bee Tuesday

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'Buzz' picked to patrol bee Tuesday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 22, 2009 1:46 PM

At this year's spelling bee, the playing field is wide open.

Contenders from The Pines, which won in 2006 and 2008, and came close in 2007, will not be back this year, Georgia Dees said.

"We just haven't been able to get it together this year," she said. "We're a very intense group and it was fun. We might go out there and watch it ... and we may be back next year."

That leaves the slate clean for a new winner.

Renamed this year as the Extreme Bee, the spelling competition will be held on Tuesday night at Lane Tree Country Club. A reception at 5 p.m. precedes the event, which kicks off at 6.

This is the eighth year for the fundraiser, which has cumulatively given $83,000 in education grants for teachers, funds the Junior Leadership program and supports teacher recruitment efforts.

Twelve teams will vie for the title this year, organizers said.

In addition to a new name -- it was previously the Corporate Spelling Bee -- there were several changes made this year.

A contest was held earlier to name the bee mascot.

The winning entry, Buzz Honeycutt, belonged to Karina Miller, a media assistant at Tommy's Road Elementary School. Hers was chosen out of more than 50 suggestions submitted.

BB&T sponsored the contest, with a $100 prize presented to Ms. Miller.

The same rules apply to the actual event as in previous years. Teams come prepared with a pot of money they have raised to keep themselves in the contest, using funds to purchase a word if they fail to spell it correctly.

"The participating teams have sponsors and then the participating teams go out and ask folks within the community for what they call 'honey money' to buy the words with if they misspell a word," said Steve Hicks, president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event along with the Education Council.

When the pot is empty, teams become the victims of the Killer Bee, potentially losing their chance at the title of best spellers in the county.

This year, two other contests have been added -- for best spirit and best theme -- each with a $500 prize for the winners.

Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

"This is definitely an opportunity for the entire community to come together and support a project that's very worthwhile," Hicks said. "It's actually an opportunity for us to allow teachers to utilize $500 mini-grants to do innovative projects above and beyond what they do in their regular curriculum.

"It makes it exciting for the kids. These are the types of things that are different, they really help those kids find schoolwork more interesting."

The spelling bee is an exciting way to support teachers and education in Wayne County, Hicks said.

"There's some great, great things happening and this is one way that we can keep new programs active and meaningful," he said.