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Groups fundraiser bee tests teams with tough words, humor
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Gainesville State College team members Carrie Raizes, right, and JoAnna Peacock laugh as they take a turn at spelling during Tuesday evening’s 19th annual “Brain Teasing, Crowd Pleasing, Good Time of a Spelling Bee” at Pearce Auditorium. Money from the event goes to various adult literacy program in Gainesville and Hall County.

It came down to a fierce competition, but in the final round, the Lanier Tech “A Bee C’s” won with the one-two punch of “philogyny” and “regisseur” at the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance For Literacy’s spelling bee Tuesday night.

The A Bee C’s outspelled six other teams — including last year’s champions, the Gainesville First United Methodist Church “Circuit Riders” — to become this year’s champion spellers at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium.

“We were very excited,” said Mellisa Dalton of the A Bee C’s. “It’s nice to come and do something for charity.”

Fellow team members Ruth Mancari and Debbie Killip said they studied as much as they could and left the rest up to luck.

Teams of three representing Brenau University, Cargill, Gainesville First United Methodist Church, Gainesville Rotary Club, Gainesville State College, Lanier Technical College and the Hall County Library System participated in the Alliance’s 18th annual event.

The words in the competition were not easy. Host Gay Hammond humorously quizzed the teams with interesting words that she found “in the dictionary and books that I like.”

As the rounds went on, the words got tougher. Judges, armed with hefty dictionaries and silver bee antennae, offered clues to the words and organist Martha Stratton was there to reward successful spellers with a musical flourish.

Hammond was also on hand to repeat the word to participants in whatever accent they requested. Many took advantage of the option, letting Hammond exercise her best Australian accent and Sean Connery impersonation.

Hammond also quizzed the audience’s spelling skills with some of her favorite words from spelling bees throughout the years, including “snickersnee,” a word for a large knife, and “troglodyte,” which describes a person who lives in a pit or cave.

“This is why our language delights me,” Hammond said. “It is so absurd and so precise.”

The spelling bee is the Alliance For Literacy’s signature fundraiser of the year, said Executive Director Dorothy Shinafelt.

“All of the classes at the Adult Learning Center are free,” Shinafelt said. “We receive no state or federal funding so we have to rely on the generosity of the community.”

Shinafelt said the Alliance teaches basic reading skills as well as English as a second language and GED preparation and testing.

Shinafelt said giving adults a second chance at education not only betters their lives but helps improve the opportunities for their children for generations.

“There’s a lot of things people don’t realize about adult literacy,” Shinafelt said. “It impacts not only the individual but the entire community.”

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