Career Path Mentors Program
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|ADULT SPELLING BEE|
[2008 Article in Ventura County Star]
Adults hold a spelling bee that's not business as usual; Teams adhere to unusual rules while raising funds
By Lisa McKinnon, Ventura County Star, Sunday, June 1, 2008
Less than a day after a 13-year-old from Indiana won the 81st Scripps National Spelling Bee on primetime television by correctly navigating his way through the word "guerdon," 25 teams of adults settled into a Crown Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel ballroom to give competitive spelling a try.
Their first word? "Cat."
Clearly, what was billed Saturday as the "first annual" adult spelling bee benefiting the Segue Career Guidance Program for area high schools was not spelling-bee business as usual.
Rather than go it alone on a stage at the front of the room, the teams of four to six players remained seated at tables, spelling each word as a group. They toiled under such names as Adroit, made up of several friends who called themselves "avid spellers," and the Women of Jewelia, whose members co-own - and share the wearing of - a diamond necklace they have named Jewelia. (The necklace did not appear to be in attendance.)
Competing as Team Pink Nerds, a group of female civil engineers led by Sujin Beck of Oxnard used member Jamie Hutchins' Casio calculator wristwatch to keep track of their points.
That was easier said than done: The judges who roamed the room checking the teams' on-paper spellings also were empowered to add, or subtract, points for penmanship and deportment. In addition to pronouncing words, Bee Master and Segue board member Larry Matheney - wearing a crossword-puzzle necktie for the occasion - also was able to giveth and taketh away points at will.
(And after getting bonked in the forehead by an errant paper airplane, he probably would have done the latter if he'd been able to figure out who threw it.)
"Correct" spellings of words seemed just as arbitrary.
Witness Rule No. 4, which, when in effect, required competitors to "remove the first syllable of the word." Then there were the "global rules," which, among other things, required spellers to keep in mind that, "if after completing all steps called for by all rules, the total number of letters in a word is even, then use only the last half of the letters for that word."
Thus was the desired spelling of "outstanding" rendered "ingstandtuo."
"It is a little confusing, but we're having fun," said Ventura Rotary South member Robert Guidice after his team, the Rotary Runners, "misspelled" apprenticeship.
The competition set a blistering pace of about five words per hour, including the not-so-sudden death finals featuring four teams: Azusa Pacific University, the CEO Spelars, the Rotary Runners and a group whose table sign identified members as representatives of Oxnard Harbor but whose members wore Port of Hueneme polo shirts.
In the end, the glory went to the CEO Spelars, a group of county executive office employees who arrived at the competition in pointy hats and bathrobes that made them look like wizards who had just stepped out of the shower.
Before their win, the Spelars removed the bathrobes as part of a "mis-spell" cast on the second-place team from Azusa Pacific.
And they spelled "daily" according to the rules: lt.