Maryville Rotary battles to victory in Adult Spelling Bee

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Story & photos by Sherri Gardner Howell
Blount Today Publisher

It was lagniappe, which is pronounced nothing like it is spelled, that sunk Blount Today.

After eight rounds of spelling -- including using a gold card for a "second try" -- the Blount Today team of Betsy Pickle and Sherri Gardner Howell left one of the Ps out of lagniappe and set the stage for a grueling duel between Maryville Rotary Club and Broadway United Methodist Church for the championship of the 12th Annual Adult Spelling Bee.

Margaret Butler and Neill Monaghan emerged victorious when they correctly spelled "indispensable," after the two teams battled back-and-forth with words such as triskaidekaphobia, ecstasy, hebephrenic and lambrequin. The Broadway UMC team of Pete Headrick and Debbie Taylor took home a proud second place.

The Bee, titled "The Grate Groan-Up Spelling Bee," was more fun than imaginable, especially for the contestants. It was intense, but light-hearted, with contestants poking fun at themselves as they hit -- and missed -- words that would challenge any scholar. Many of the spellers were "hired guns," community volunteers willing to sit and spell for corporate sponsors who were eager to help Blount County Literacy Council but wanted some more experienced Spelling Bee-ers to represent them.

Blount Today partnered with another Scripps paper, bringing in the Knoxville News Sentinel’s scholarly film critic Betsy Pickle to partner with publisher Sherri Gardner Howell. They survived through eight rounds, falling to the second "p" in lagniappe in Round 9.

There were 15 teams that came out to support Blount Literacy Council in their annual fund raiser Saturday at Pellissippi State Blount Campus. Coordinating the event was Nan Taylor, Blount County Literacy Council president. Tom Taylor served as master of ceremonies, challenging the audience and judges with words to spell to win door prizes.

Perhaps a bit on the prejudicial side, Tom, who is vice mayor of the city of Maryville, presented the judges with words to spell. Ed Mitchell, Maryville’s fire chief, was asked to spell "zest," which he did. Roger Robinson, Alcoa’s fire chief, and Doug McClanahan, Blount County chief, were given the words anachronism and chimichanga. All three were awarded gifts of appreciation anyway.

Three rounds went by with no eliminations, so Spelling Master Judy Mellgard skipped ahead several pages in her vocabulary book. In the fourth round, Maryville Kiwanis fell to "platypus," Beaty & Stevenson team to "witticism," and the Copy Shop/East Tennessee Medical Group team to "luminance." Three more went out in Round Five: Alcoa Kiwanis with "vinaceous;" Alcoa Rotary to "trecento;" and the Daily Times to "cachinnate." The Blount Memorial Hospital team of Gary and Shirley Miller, last year’s champions, fell in the sixth round with diaphanous.

Round Seven was tough, with five teams taking seats in the audience. Asbury, Inc./Kenjo Markets team missed "diablerie." "Rococo" was the downfall of the Our Lady of Fatima team, with Green Bank team missing "oligopsony," Pellissippi State/Maryville Foot Clinic succumbing to "synecdoche," and Vulcan/APAC tripping up on "desiccate."

There was no misspelling "success," however, as the fund raiser is estimated to have brought in approximately $5,000 for the Blount County Literacy Council.

In addition to the spellers, others helping make the event successful were volunteers Tomas Mares, reference judge; Mitch Glasgow, gong tender and time keeper; Aubrey’s restaurant, BB&T Bank; Blount Today; John Delozier; Pellissippi State; Pewitt Insurance Agency; Ruby Tuesday; and Wal-Mart.

Spellers were Art Hafner, David Ogle, Susan McFalls, Darcy Meijer, Gary Miller, Shirley Miller, Sherri Gardner Howell, Betsy Pickle, Pete Headrick, Debbie Taylor, Kathy Pagles, Tim Self, Margaret Butler, Neill Monaghan, Jennifer Moore, Mitch Moore, Amanda Greever, Mark Boxley, Margie Ribble, Carl Gombert, Mellrose Flockhart, Lynn Guerdat, Scott Gray, Bill Beaty, Kathryn Nowell, Angela Groenhout, Peggy Swenson, Julie Lawson, Gail Hafner and Nancy Kaems.

© 2007 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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