Adult Spelling Bee award goes to ‘The Beelievers’

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Jan. 9, 2008

GUILFORD — A team of “just friends” bested state politicians, school officials, doctors, lawyers and librarians in the town’s second annual Adult Spelling Bee.

“The Beelievers” — made up of Jonathan Rubin, Jonathan Borak and Monte Kroh — earned bragging rights at the Guilford Fund for Education’s event by correctly spelling “vernissage”: a private showing or preview of an art exhibition, according to Merriam-Webster.

Hundreds of people, some of whom stood along the back of the Guilford High School auditorium, played along with the spellers. The bee was organized in six rounds with six or seven teams of three people in each round.

After that, the six winning teams played against each other to be “Best of the Hive.”

Residents Dee and Bob Jacob are planning to donate $3,000 to the Fund for Education in honor of the winning team.

Thirty-nine teams participated Friday night. Marian Breeze, a member of the Fund for Education, said that each was asked to contribute $200 as a registration fee, but some raised more than that.

The teams had a small dry erase board and 30 seconds to write down each word. Host Darren Kramer of WTNH-Channel 8 read the words and provided definitions for the groups.

Faculty from Guilford High School, including Principal Rick Misenti, made it to the final round of competition before losing on “dachshund.” But some people may stay away from Board of Education meetings after seeing how three board members spelled “boycott”: b-o-y-c-o-t-t-e.

“I’m sad to say this,” said Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella, ruefully eliminating board members Alan Meyers, Barbara Dudley and Louis Iorio.

The “Capitol B’s” team of state Reps. Patricia M. Widlitz, D-98, and Deborah Heinrich, D-101, and state Sen. Edward Meyer, D-12, lost by spelling a white vegetable as “cauliflour” instead of cauliflower.

Some words, including lyophilize (freeze-dry), septuagenarian (a person in his or her 70s), and tandoori (cooked in a clay oven over charcoal), drew “oohs,” gasps or guffaws of incredulous laughter from the audience.

Last year’s bee was the first major event for the Fund for Education, which started in 2006. The group supports school programs that aren’t a part of the district’s budget by making grants to teachers, students and nonprofit groups.

Breeze said that the group looks for innovation in education when deciding how to award grants.

“We find ourselves in a great position to be able to help teachers in ways that go outside of the public schools’ budget,” she said. The next deadline for grant applications is Friday, she added, and the group will probably announce the awards in May.

Forcella said that the Fund for Education is already making a difference in Guilford’s schools.

“It’s truly amazing what they’ve been able to do for our schools and how appreciative the Board of Education and all our schools are,” he said. “The grants that they provide really help our school district get to where we want to be.”

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