10/28/09 — Spelling to help county's schools

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Spelling to help county's schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 28, 2009 1:46 PM

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Wayne Country Day School team members Diane Price and Todd Anderson talk over one of their answers during the Extreme Bee Tuesday at Lane Tree Country Club. The team went on to win the event, which is sponsored by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

The line to the buffet table at Lane Tree Country Club Tuesday night looked like contestants from "Let's Make a Deal" -- from beauty queens and Dr. Seuss characters, nerds and cowboys, to the Beatles, including Yoko Ono and Ed Sullivan.

But they were all there for the Extreme Spelling Bee, vying for bragging rights while raising money for teacher mini-grants, recruitment and incentive packages and funding for the Junior Leadership program.

This was the eighth year for the event, which has cumulatively raised $83,000. The evening brought in another $15,356, surpassing the sponsoring Chamber of Commerce's goal of $15,000.

"This is a community event. It's for a wonderful purpose," Steve Hicks, chamber president, said at the outset. "This spelling bee over the years has raised a lot of money because of a lot of people that have worked hard to make it happen."

Ken Derksen, public information officer for Wayne County Public Schools, said he has participated in the event since 2005. This year, he served as co-chair along with Julie Beck of Mount Olive College.

"Every year I think it gets a little better and more successful," he said.

Derksen introduced the party pooper for the evening, formerly known as Killer Bee. The new mascot, "Buzz Honeycutt," portrayed by L.J. Stanley of Century 21, popped balloons whenever a team was eliminated.

John Clifton served as "emBEE" for the evening, calling out words and giving commentary on their meaning and using them in a sentence.

Kicking off the event with "odious," the easy round included such words as "poltergeist," "tranche" and "eurybathic."

As the words graduated to higher degrees of difficulty, often delving into other languages -- German, Latin, Swedish, even Old English and Yiddish -- teams cried out for "words in English."

Honey bees buzzed back and forth to the "honey money" table, bringing money and aid to the teams hoping to remain to the end.

It was nearly two hours in before any eliminations were made. Then, just like that, four of the 13 teams were sent packing -- Brogden Primary's "Seussville Spellers," Franklin Bakery's "Franklin Dough Girls," Rosewood Elementary's "BEE-GLES" and Southern Wayne High's "BEE Haw."

When the field narrowed to the final four, the Fremont STARS Elementary School team, "Easy Street," resembling cast members from "Annie," burst into the song, "It's a Hard Knock Life," signaling their eminent departure from the contest. As Buzz Honeycutt made his way across the room, stinger poised to pop their balloons, the team harmonized, "The sun'll come out tomorrow."

Another word or two later, the only non-school team remaining, Wayne Memorial Hospital, waved the white flag, winding up in third place.

Between Dillard Middle's Slumber Bees and Wayne Country Day School's "The BEEtles-Let It Bee!" the words got trickier, and more bizarre.

From "steatopygia," which means large posterior, to "callipygian," having well-shaped buttocks, teams were on the edge of their seats.

But it would be "quidnunc," a Latin word meaning nosy, gossipy person, that became the ultimate tie-breaker.

As Dillard bowed out, the Fab Four at WCDS's table belted out, "Let it Be, Let It Be."

"My wig's got to go," said team member Cathie Hooks, stopping just shy of taking it off and revealing "wig head."

This was the second year for the team participation, said Barbara Ann Vinson of the school. Two years ago, their first effort, they also won, she said.

"Oh, man, was that down to the wire or what?" Mrs. Hooks said afterwards.

Teammate Pam Diffee -- wearing large teeth and a button explaining, "I am the Walrus" -- would only say, "Koo-koo-ka-chu."

Two new awards were also given out this year, netting $500 for each team.

The best theme award went to the Dictionary Devils of Norwayne Middle, which boasted a giant picnic basket in the center of the room bearing the sign, "Going to SPELL in a hand-basket."

Best spirit award went to Brogden Primary School's Seussville Spellers.