Team To Bee or Not To Bee were in complete shock when the results came in.
Standing on the stage with the three final teams of the 15th annual Certified Literate Community Program Spelling Bee, “EmBee” Jack Morman announced the teams from third to first. With the LaGrange High School Grangers taking third place, To Bee or Not To Bee members Teresa Krizay, Beth Tures and Carl Parke opened their mouths in surprise when Morman announced the second place team was The Vital Organs.
As Morman announced the team’s first-place win, getting four of five words right on a final “spell off” among the teams, Parke and Krizay high fived. It was Parke’s first time competing in the bee and Krizay’s first time competing for the school.
“I’m way surprised,” Krizay said after the bee.
Tures, who had competed before, said her team’s best performance in prior years was about sixth place.
The team members said they knew and readily agreed on almost all the words they were given Monday night.
“It was a lot more fun than I thought,” Parke said. “… I had no idea what to expect, being (in town) less than a year. I had a great time.”
Twelve sponsored teams competed in the spelling bee this year, which means it raised $5,000 for CLCP’s GED scholarships, said Troup County CLCP executive director Debbie Burdette. Burdette said with GED tests costing $160, the money raised “really helps.”
Morman and “Bee Bouncer” Carol Cain worked the audience throughout the event with quips and Cain’s skits and jokes to usher losing teams off stage after a misspelled word. When team The Pelvic Tilts were knocked out early on after leaving out a letter, Cain asked them to wear masks to hide their shame. When Spells Like Team Spirit failed to spell “flirtatious” right, Cain acted out a mock scene from “Lincoln,” telling members, “I cannot tell a lie. You’re spelling stinks!”
During the event, the CLCP also announced its annual Literary Awards. This year’s three recipients were:
•Skip Smith and Smith Design Group, receiving the corporate award. CLCP board chairman Dave Marler said the group has sponsored teams at the spelling bee for many years and “are always one of the first to confirm their participation.”
•Gail Gordon, receiving the professional award. Marler said Gordon, coordinator for United Way’s Success by Six early learning initiative and a former kindergarten teacher, has put many books into children’s hands and “has a true appreciation of what children really need – to be ready to learn by the time they enter school.”
•William Prescott, receiving the volunteer award. Marler said Prescott “worked diligently” to save the adult education classes in Hogansville when they were threatened from budget cuts, ensuring they had continued access to GED classes. Since July 2012, Marler said five students, including two recipients of CLCP scholarships, passed the GED exam, an accomplishment he credited to Prescott.
Burdette, decked out in her usual bee costume, said at the top of Monday night’s program that she couldn’t believe it had been 15 years since the spelling bee began. She and Cain have been involved with the bee for the past 11 years.
“To be doing it this long is very special,” Burdette said.