WMU News

WMU team gears up for Great Grown-up Spelling Bee

Nov. 8, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- It may be as simple as kick or comet. Or they just might run up against gegenschien or blatherskite.

These and hundreds other words will be on the docket Wednesday, Nov. 14, when a group of Western Michigan University faculty and staff members faces off against a host of other community teams at the first-ever Great Grown-up Spelling Bee. A fund-raising event sponsored by Ready to Read, the spelling bee will be held on campus from 5:15 to 9 p.m. at the Fetzer Center. Twenty teams of two spellers and six cheerleaders will duke it out for a champion trophy and the already-coveted spirit award.

"We think the spelling bee is a great way to draw attention to the importance of reading to children," says Ready to Read's Andrea Enyedi, noting that organizers hope to make this an annual event. "Some of the teams are really going all out, especially with the cheerleading, including matching outfits, custom cheers and props. Saul Amdursky, director of the Kalamazoo Public Library, will be there in his giant bee costume. It's going to be a fun night."

Each spelling duo will have 60 seconds per round to spell as many words as possible, trading off words-no helping allowed. All words will be taken from the official study guide, or paideia, of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, which participants received several weeks ago. Rather than a traditional elimination system, points will be awarded for correctly spelled words during two rounds of competition.

WMU is one of six "gold level" sponsors for the event, which will be broadcast live on community access. The University's spellers include: Sue Coker, field placements; Karin Carl, College of Education; and alternate Dean David England, College of Education. University cheerleaders are: Nina Nelson, dance; D. Terry Williams, theatre; and Carol Morris-Mier, Amy Burns, Toby Spinner and Shirley Swift, all from the College of Education. Also, Alexander Enyedi, biological sciences, will be the official scorekeeper for the evening, and retired WMUK General Manager Garrard Macleod will be the pronouncer.

A program of the Kalamazoo Public Library and Healthy Futures, Ready to Read aims to ensure that all children are familiar with books by age 5. Its efforts include placing volunteer readers at sites that serve high-risk families, collaborations with pediatricians who "prescribe" reading at well-child visits and a partnership with area hospitals to send every newborn home with a book, among other initiatives.

A limited number of spectator seats will be available at the spelling bee for $10 each. Information or reservations can be obtained by calling the Ready to Read office at 616 553-7803.

Media contact: Jessica English, 616 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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