.... Bridge benefits as 31 teams compete.
On the last Saturday evening in February, several hundred people poured into Memorial Hall to participate in, or root for, favorite teams in this year's Fourth Annual Adult Spelling Bee. As in past years, money raised at the Spelling Bee benefits "The Bridge: A School/Community Partnership".
The Bridge is a not-for profit organization that has been recruiting, training and placing volunteers in the Melrose Public Schools since 1993. During the 1996-1997 school year 6,300 documented hours of volunteer services were provided. In addition, this year The Bridge sponsored the city's First Annual Community Reading Day in the Melrose Public Schools.
Thirty-one teams entered this year's Spelling Bee. Each team paid a $200 entrance fee, which will go directly to The Bridge. Entrance fees were paid in a variety of ways. Businesses sponsored many teams. Other teams were supported fully by team members themselves. Still other teams received small donations from a lot of people for their entrance fee. In addition to sponsoring teams, about 65 businesses in Melrose and surrounding communities donated services or raffle items.
The Council on Aging, which actively promotes elders volunteering in the schools, has sponsored a team each year. This year's team jokingly called themselves the Bumbling Bees. Team members included Katie Joyce, a veteran of all four Spelling Bees; Virginia Hanley, a second time entrant, and first timer Barbara Sullivan. The word that tripped them up was toxophilite.
Katie was philosophical after being eliminated. She said "Well, there is always next year." She was quick to point out to her granddaughter by her side, "It really doesn't matter who wins because the Spelling Bee is for a good cause". Barbara and Virginia were quick to agree that "It's all in fun". Although the Bumbling Bees didn't win this year, they all hope for another chance to participate next year.
Winning the Spelling Bee were the Milk and Honey Bees, sponsored by Temple Beth Shalom. Team members Deborah Slavitt, Trudy Seldman and Dan Krechmer successsfully spelled mai after it was missed by the "Gospellers," the runner-up team sponsored by the Highlands Congregational Church. Members on the Gospellers were Anne Gilbert, Joyce Sacco and John Egan. The Milk and Honey Bees went on to clinch their victory by correctly spelling "cappelletti".
Phil Kukura did a great job as the Spell Master. Dressed in a full tuxedo, he kept things moving and, by interspersing humor throughout the evening, lively. Judges for the evening included former Mayor Richard D. Lyons, Superintendent of Melrose Public Schools Dr. Richard Incerto, and Dennis Kelley, Director of the Melrose Public Library. Amy Spollett made her presence felt by ringing the bong at every incorrectly spelled word.
Bridge coordinator Emily Rubenstein thanked the many volunteers and said that the evening "spelled" a huge success.