Howe too spel reel gud -- 02/13/05

Nancy competed in a Spelling Bee last night.

It was a fund-raiser for SK-CARES

The "SK" is for our town and the "CARES" is for "Connecting All Resources for Educational Support" (yes, probably another one of those acronyms where they came up with the acronym first and then tried to pick words that would spell it out) which is an organization that promotes educational activities in connection with the school system, working to promote literacy and mentoring and enrichment.

This was a team competition with thirty-nine teams of three people each. The teams were sponsored -- $150 entry fee -- some by businesses, some by individuals, some by groups or just by passing the hat around. Nancy was on the team from her school (pictured above -- that's Nancy on the right with the music/band teacher on the left and the principal in the middle), financed by passing an envelope around the faculty room. There were teams from each public school in town, at least one private school, two car dealerships, a real estate office, three members of the town council, three school board members, three pediatricians from a medical group, three teenagers from the high school, etc.

The teams were divided into three "hives" of three teams each for the first round. Teams that survived the first round went on to compete in the second round. After the first round, if a team knew they could not spell the word, they could raise a "BEE-fuddled" sign and see if anyone in the audience would donate ten dollars for the chance to spell the word for them. Also, if a team lost a round, they could move on to the next round anyway if an audience member was willing to donate twenty-five dollars to resuscitate them.

The evening had started at six p.m. in the high school cafeteria with a "BEE-stro" where local restaurants donated food (mmmm, some good stuff!) The spellers were admitted free, but everyone else paid five dollars admission (which included both the food and the spelling bee). There were a lot of family and friends of the competitors in attendance -- the cafeteria was full.

The competition was judged by two "celebrity" judges: the superintendent of the local school system and Judith Dupre (author of Skyscrapers and Churches and Bridges, etc.)

Needless to say, the emphasis was more on having fun (and raising money) than on what you might expect from a spelling bee. The words ranged from somewhat easy (although potentially tricky) such as carburetor to obscure, such as Dinoflagellata (an order of tiny ocean-dwelling life forms), with some Rhode Island place names thrown in (such as Pettaquamscutt and Quonochontaug). Eventually, Nancy's team lost.

Naturally I whipped out twenty-five bucks and reinstated them. This picture shows their reaction to finding that jejune (not interesting, dull, lacking in value) is not spelled jejeune. The judges, however, liked their answer so much (and agreed that they also had thought it was derived from French (rather than from Latin) so they ruled that the team could be given a different word to spell. Unfortunately, that next word was kwashiorkor (severe protein malnutrition) and the team misspelled it as kwashiorcor.

By this time it was after ten p.m. and Nancy's team decided not to buy their way into the final "sudden death" round.

So then this morning I went off to run in a 5k race, a fund-raiser to help a family meet the costs of their eleven year old daughter's recent heart transplant (plus the medication she will be on for the rest of her life - thirty pills, two times a day). My brother-in-law Tom ran with me. Uh, to be more exact, we ran together for almost the first mile, but I couldn't keep pace with him after than and he finished far in front of me. (His younger daughter was there also as a volunteer, working the registration tables before the race and giving out fruit and water to the runners after the race.) Jill had to work this morning (yesterday and today both, starting at seven a.m. -- and guess who had to get up at six to be sure she was up).

I spent much of the afternoon doing homework (and struggling to keep my eyes open). I am very tired.

So... that was my weekend... zzzzzzzzzzz

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