... it was bound to "bee" a winner
In early 1993, the Bridge: A School/Community Partnership, came into being as a result of the deliberations of the Strategic Planning Committee for Education in Melrose. The preliminary investigation of the Strategic Planning Committee revealed that the Melrose Public Schools felt that they had to work together in a partnership with the entire Melrose Community to provide the best possible education for their students.
The Committee's initial goal was to place volunteers in suitable places in the public schools. To make that goal a reality they decided that they would screen and train volunteers. Once enough qualified volunteers became available, pilot programs were instituted in three schools. If successful, as the committee was reasonably certain it would be, the programs were to be expanded to include all Melrose Public Schools by December 1994.
Bridge Coordinator Emily Rubenstein (left) and Edith Smolens, one of the principal volunteers, who also provided much of the background information included herein.(Photos by Karen Smolens)
In order to implement the planned program the committee realized that a strong coordinator from outside the school system would be needed. After interviewing a number of candidates for the coordinator position, the committee chose Emily Rubenstein who has turned out to be an outstanding choice. Her success in recruiting, training, and placement of volunteers has been responsible for the tremendous success of the partnership program.
The other necessary ingredient needed was the ubiquitous need for funding. The committee studied fund raising programs that had been instituted in neighboring communities and decided that an Adult Spelling Bee would provide a fun event around which the entire community could rally. Because of the interest and enthusiasm of the teams that would be entered in the event, it was hoped that the event would earn much of the needed money. The First Annual Adult spelling Bee took place in Melrose Memorial Hall in October 1994 and proved to be an enormous success. That success has been replicated in succeeding years.
Every year, in post mortems, the committee examines the results of the Spelling Bee and this year when somebody suggested substituting a Trivia Bee, that idea met with enthusiasm and was approved with total support by committee members. It was a tribute to the sagacity and flexibility of the committee that the first Trivia Bee met with renewed enthusiasm that resulted in the entry of thirty-five teams; the most ever.
Entering teams had to contribute an entry fee of $200.00 each. That fee was funded by the members of sponsoring organizations. Those organizations included churches, schools, businesses, our library, political parties, and even individual office holders.
It was a gala event. The hard working committee had set up round tables on the floor of the hall. Tables seating competing teams were reserved for the participants. The remaining tables and bleachers on each side of the hall seated spectators. The tables were covered and decorated with centerpieces topped by multiple black and yellow balloons that created a festive image for the event. In keeping with the thoroughness of the preparations, black and yellow were chosen as the balloon colors because those are the colors of bees.
To augment the income from fees, a separate room in the hall was set up to serve hot and cold food items and desserts. In addition to the food that had been contributed by local restaurants and other businesses located in Melrose and other nearby communities, other items were prepared by members of a hard working volunteer Refreshment Committee. In addition, local shops had contributed a wonderful selection of dessert items.
As in past years, items to be raffle prizes were solicited and this year's prizes were exceptional. The raffle winners were selected and announced between rounds. The money gleaned from the sale of raffle tickets represented a significant addition to the overall financial success of the Bee.
Six rounds of competing teams were assigned. The teams could choose from questions valued at 10, 20, or 30 points each. Those point values represented the committee's judgment as to the degree of difficulty of the questions. The most popular choice by far was the 20 point question. The winner after the rounds of questions were completed would be the team accumulating the most total points. The winners of each round would then become participants in the final Championship Round.
When a question was answered incorrectly it was greeted by the striking of a loud gong by our Queen Bee, Amy Spollett, a long time Melrose resident, community activist, and member of the original Planning Committee. Merely to view Amy in her Queen Bee attire is something sure to bring smiles to the faces of those in the audience. We were fortunate to have two outstanding, civic minded Melrose residents orchestrating the competition. Tug Yourgrau, a successful playwright and producer was master of ceremonies and Phil Kukura, an outstanding professor of history, clearly articulated the questions.
The winners of the individual rounds were as follows:
Round #1 Chamber of Knowledge -- Representing: Melrose Chamber of Commerce
Round #2 Beebe Brains -- Representing: Members of Beebe School Parent Teacher Assn.
Round #3 Class of "82" -- Representing: Alderman-at-Large Paul Brodeur
Round #4 Biblio Bees -- Representing: Melrose Public Library
Round #5 Beeyootiful Minds -- Represented by a group captained by Tim McGourthy
Round #6 Melrose Red Raiders -- Represented by Melrose High School Teachers
Grand Prize Winner: Melrose Red Raiders
Congratulations to the winning Red Raider team members: Jim Babineau, Bob Coughlin (Team Captain) and Kay Clark
The members of each round-winning team were presented with medals.
The grand prize winners were presented with overflowing beautifully covered baskets of fruit and other goodies.
From the applause that greeted the round winners and especially the Grand Prize winners, it became apparent to all in attendance that the Trivia Bee was a rousing success and it augurs well for the years ahead.