Spellers, spectators support local l-i-t-e-r-a-c-y group

Posted: April 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

Eagle-Bees team member Libba Pendleton holds up money for a lifeline Thursday evening while competing in the event. The team was sponsored by the Bank of Clarke County.
Spelling Hornets team members Julie Hofmann (from left), Andrea Meador Smith and Michelle Lynn Brown wait for the verdict from pronouncer Maggie Peterson on a word they spelled Thursday night during the eighth annual Adult Spelling Bee held at First Presbyterian Church to benefit Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area. The team was sponsored by Shenandoah University. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Money Honeys team member Cynthia Lescalleet shows off her wings at the beginning of the Adult Spelling Bee Thursday evening at the First Presbyterian Church. The team was sponsored by BB&T Bank. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)


A crowd of more than 100 looked on Thursday night as 10 teams competed in a time-honored tradition: the spelling bee.

The eighth annual Adult Spelling Bee — held at the First Presbyterian Church on South Loudoun Street — benefited Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area (LVWA), an advocacy organization that serves Winchester, Frederick and Clarke counties.

The spelling bee is one of the group’s biggest two fundraisers, and Bonnie Flax — an LVWA board member and event chair — said the group hopes to equal or surpass the $13,000 it raised at last year’s event.

Money raised from the bee goes to help LVWA and its 50 to 60 volunteers hold free and low-cost classes that include one-on-one tutoring, basic English and English as a Second Language, Flax said.

“One in four adults in the city of Winchester under the age of 25 does not have their GED or high school diploma, so we’re trying to help change that,” she said. “We also have a large population in town that doesn’t speak English.”

The organization — which has served the area for 25 years — also offers computer literacy classes.

“We often ask people to consider for a minute what their lives would be like without the ability to read, do basic mathematics, [balance] a checkbook and now even the issue of basic computer proficiency,” said LVWA President Dave Shore.

“If you could envision that for yourself, these are the people in these communities that we serve.”

Shore added that, over the course of a year, the organization serves about 150 people.

The 10 teams — which each had three members and an alternate — were comprised of both community members and employees of local businesses like Apple Federal Credit Union, Wells Fargo and Valley Health.

Dan McCoig, the associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church, was a member of GODspellas. The team, made up of local religious leaders, entered the bee for the second consecutive year.

“I can’t think of anything more important than helping people learn to read and write,” McCoig said. “It’s very difficult to make your way in the world not knowing how to read and write.”

Another reason McCoig and his teammates decided to participate was because they consider it to be a fun event.

“Spelling bees are one of those things which you either loved as a child or they terrified you as a child, and I was somewhere in the middle,” McCoig said. “As an adult, you can misspell a word and realize that life goes on. It’s a little more fun as an adult.”

Coincidentally, GODspellas was tasked with spelling “altarpiece” during the first round.

At the end of the night — and for the second straight year — Home’s Cool took home the first-place trophy, which it will hold until next year’s bee. Team members were Kimberly Estep, Darren Jones, Laurie Peacock and alternate George Estep.

Healthy Bees, sponsored by Valley Health, was the runner-up. The winning word was “lobscouse,” a stew that was commonly eaten by sailors.

— Contact Matt Armstrong atmarmstrong@winchesterstar.com