The buzz on the bee: Contestants "spell-off" in annual event for Literacy Council

Plans for the Blount County Literacy Council Adult Spelling Bee are buzzing right along according to Nan Taylor, President of Blount County Literacy Council. As of now, sixteen teams are registered to compete.

The 12th annual Spelling Bee begins at 1 p.m. on April 28 at the Blount campus of Pellissippi State Technical Community College. This year’s master of ceremonies, Tom Taylor, Vice Mayor of Maryville, will challenge the audience to spell words for a chance to win door prizes. But things will really heat up when the judges arrive. Maryville Fire Chief Ed Mitchell, Alcoa Fire Chief Roger Robinson and Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan will oversee the spelling of the words.

Last year’s winner was the Blount Memorial Hospital team. Team members Gary Miller and his mother, Shirley Miller, won on the word "quila" which is a South American grass resembling bamboo that is used for paper and weaving.

"I look at it as a challenge, but part of it is just luck. You hope you get a word you’ve at least heard of before," Miller said. He’d never heard of the word "quila" and neither had I. Instead of just telling me how to spell it, he talked me through some basic rules of spelling until I got it on my own. Talk about pressure and I didn’t even have an audience.

"They give you easy words to start the first round," he said. "Then, when the butterflies are over we do pretty good. For the most part, I’m relaxed now," Miller said.

This is Miller’s seventh year competing and his fourth year competing with Shirley. The Adult Spelling Bee differs from the children’s Bee since it allows teams to work together and they can write out the word to check their spelling. Blount Memorial Hospital has been Miller’s sponsor all seven years.

The Spelling Bee is a fundraiser to benefit adult students who are learning to read or are obtaining their GED. The Adult Education classes at Everett also help people with reading, writing, basic math and English as a second language. For more information about the Adult Education classes offered at the Everett Opportunities Center on Jett Road in Maryville, call 865-982-8998.

Other sponsors of the Adult Spelling Bee are Our Lady of Fatima Church, Maryville Kiwanis, Maryville Rotary, Alcoa Kiwanis, Alcoa Rotary, Broadway United Methodist Men and Women, Beaty & Stevenson, The Daily Times, John Delozier, Vulcan, APAC, East Tennessee Medical Group, Maryville Foot Clinic, Asbury, Inc., Pellissippi State Technical College, Blount Campus, Ken-Jo Markets, The Copy Shop and Blount Today.

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