bee_120After four preliminary rounds with seven teams in each, four finalist teams advanced to the championship round at the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) 16th Annual Adult Spelling Bee on March 2.  After 84 words were spelled correctly in front of a crowd of 250 community members of all ages, two teams remained.  The Ithaca City School District (ICSD) Board of Education team (Board of Ed Buzz) sparred with the WSKG broadcasters (We Spell Krazy Good) through four more challenging words before a winner could be determined. WSKG correctly spelled 'passementerie' which is an ornamental edging or trimming made of braid, cord, gimp, beading, or metallic thread. The other finalist teams were staff and parents from ICSD elementary schools: BJM Spell Casters and Takin’ Care of Business from Fall Creek.

The Bee raised over $25,000 to support IPEI’s grants for teachers. Held in the Ithaca High School Wellness Center Gym, there was no admission charge for the annual family-friendly event that featured 28 spelling teams of three adults each competing for the championship Fuzzy Bee trophy. Funds were raised through event sponsorships, team sponsorships, program advertisements, pledges based on correctly spelled words, and a silent auction.

The spelling bee was recorded by WRED and will be broadcast on local cable channel 16 four times next week: Sunday, March 9 at 6:00 p.m.; Monday, March 10 at 6:00 p.m.; Wednesday, March 12 at 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday, March 15at 11:00 a.m.

WRED, Ithaca High School’s state-of-the-art television production facility and course, offers Digital Media students the opportunity to produce shows in a real-world environment for the web and for cable.  Thanks to Steve Cass and his students, WRED recorded the Bee for live stream and rebroadcast.  Click here for a Web link.

Chemung Canal Trust Company, the Blue Ribbon Champion Sponsor for the fourth year, was joined by Red Ribbon Finalist Sponsor Wells Fargo Financial Advisors and two Gold Ribbon Runner Up Sponsors, Cayuga Radio Group and Sciarabba Walker & Co.  Their corporate support covers all event expenses so that team sponsorships and other event income directly supports grants for teachers. West Hill Graphics and Calf Audio are also key event partners.

This popular community event is run like an official spelling bee, with rules, a pronouncer, MCs, a timekeeper, and three judges. David Feldshuh pronounced the words while timekeeper Geoff Dunn alerted spellers when their time to consider the correct spelling expired.  Judges included IPEI founder Ralph Jones as well as Paulette Manos and Deborah Lynn.  Bee MCs were Greg Bostwick and George Preston.

bee_spellabrateThese guys can spell! Left to right: Aaron Terkel, Greg Fry Dave Ashton

Teams were known by creative names such as We Spell Krazy Good (WSKG), BJM Spell Casters, 3 of 6,000, Takin' Care of Buzz-ness, Spellabrate Good Times - Come On, Don't Stop Bee-lievin', The LACS Alternative Spellerz, and the Hilarious Spell-Loehrs. Two teams were back after multiple championships: the Spellicans and Fine Arts “Word” Boosters. Teams were comprised of community members who want to support local public education and enjoy spelling. Others were closely connected to the Ithaca City School District (ICSD): Ithaca Teachers Association, ICSD Administration, ICSD Board of Education, Fall Creek Elementary School, BJ Martin Elementary School, Belle Sherman Elementary School, Caroline Elementary School, Ithaca High School PTA, Ithaca High School Math Department, Lehman Alternative Community School, Fine Arts Booster Group, IthacaSTEM Advocates, and the Ithaca Council of PTAs.

Teams represented the event sponsors and team sponsors such as CFCU, Wegmans, Greenstar, Carol Bushberg Real Estate, Audrey Edelman RealtyUSA, Ithaca College, Harris Beach PLLC, CSP Management, Hunt Engineers, UPS Store, Ambis Dental, Anchor Capital Management, Cats Pajamas, Buell-Mix Properties, Cotterill Agency, Haylor Freyer & Coon, Robert Maciel Associates, Midstate Basement Authority, Tompkins Insurance Agencies, and Wordsmyth. Championship Round prizes were provided by and Steve Ryan.

bee_hairJamie Loehr, Mary Loehr, Steve Yale Loehr

Refreshments were donated by Aladdin's Natural Eatery, B & W Supply Company, Collegetown Bagels, Cornell Orchards, Ithaca Coffee Company, Mark’s Pizzeria, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Ned’s Pizzeria, P&C Fresh, Subway, Tops, and Wings Over Ithaca. A new component of the Bee was a silent auction of 43 items from restaurants, museums, retail shops, salons and spas, educational organizations, and inns. In addition, this year’s event program featured advertisements from more generous businesses.

Events like the Spelling Bee depend on participation of many.  The Bee Committee was chaired by IPEI board member Judy Stewart and supported by IPEI Programs and Events Manager Julie Langenbacher.  Nora Shang, Karen Yearwood, Julie Biehn, Deirdre Hay, Usha Raman, Connie Patterson and Mary Grainger were committee members, and all IPEI board members assisted in event preparation and production, too.  The Ithaca High School Code Red Robotics Team members and Science Olympiad members assisted at the event including support for this year’s Bee fairies, Meira Braun and Grace Blodgett.