Submitted by Michele Goodson Garrison and Shane Mauldin
Since the McKinney Education Foundation reintroduced their Spelling Bee for Scholarships three years ago, competitors have learned that the title of “Spelling Bee Champ” is not the only award to be won at the annual event. Winning the Spelling Bee “Spirit Stick,” designed by MEF’s Emeritus Trustee, Pam Sexton, is just as prestigious.
While contestants study the vocabulary and the origins of words before the event, their cheerleaders (often sponsors, co-workers or family) are busy putting together a plan to outshine the competition’s fans. Spelling Bee teams arrived at the Eldorado Country club Thursday, Feb. 21, for the bee in everything from business suits to costumes (the Collin College Rotaract Vampires were dressed in medical coats to promote their blood drive). Team supporters wore clever T-shirts and decorated their tables to show their team spirit. It all comes together the day of the challenge as spellers loosen their ties, don their costumes and fans cheer. Loudly.
Mix in Sara Thomas of Independent Bank as the emcee, announcing the words and often offering comical examples of words used in sentences, and you get what MEF Trustee, Randall Pogue calls, “Good fun, for a good cause!”
The spelling talent was especially impressive this year as the words increased in difficulty, intended to weed out the winner by 1pm. Torchmark Corporation’s “Word Nerds” emerged as the 2013 Champions and Independent Bank – whose followers brought along a megaphone that mimicked police sirens – won the coveted Spirit Stick. As contestants and cheerleaders left the venue, they could be heard planning how they could win one, or both, awards next year.
“The MEF Spelling Bee saw an increase in participation this year and even sold out of mulligans after the second round,” stated Edie Heinicke, MEF Executive Director. “The event was a huge success, raising over $20,000 to support MEF. It was a lot of fun, and we are grateful to everyone who participated. We can’t wait to do it again next year!”
McKinney ISD was well represented at the event. In fact, asPaige Hanks adjusted her glasses, seized the microphone and carefully articulated the word, “Anxiety. A-n-x-i-e-t-y. Anxiety,” a round of cheers from the McKinney ISD contingent and a triumphant pose from Hanks meant that the MISD Word Nerds (not to be confused with the Torchmark Word Nerds) had their first test was out of the way.
Three groups with ties to McKinney ISD were among the field of 13 local 3-person teams:
The McKinney ISD Word Nerds
Paige Hanks, Lawson Early Childhood School Principal
Dr. Logan Faris, McKinney High School Principal
Deborah Sanchez, Walker Elementary School Principal
Collin College Rotaract Vampires
Jackson Oliver, Glen Oaks Elementary School 5th grade student
Tomes Auto Group
Melanie Corcoran, Scott Johnson Middle School 8th grade ELAR teacher
Josh Nguyen, Scott Johnson Middle School 8th grade student
Zack Phillips, McKinney North High School 10th grade student
After Hanks’ successful opening round response for the MISD Word Nerds, Scott Johnson Middle School 8th grader Josh Nguyen cruised through “influenza” for the Tomes Auto Group Team, and Glen Oaks Elementary School 5th grader Jackson Oliver successfully navigated his Vampire team past “forensics” — keeping all three MISD groups in the thick of it.
“G-r-e-g-a-r-i-o-u-s.” “M-e-d-i-o-c-r-e.” “S-a-r-t-o-r-i-a-l.” “J-e-r-e-m-i-a-d.” “E-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-t-i-a-l.”
As the difficulty increased with each round, competitors began pulling out “mulligans” to wave off tricky words or to pass them to opposing teams, and some began to falter. “Transience” and “miasma” eliminated two teams.
And then after several well-fought rounds, the Tomes Auto Group team missed on “precipitate”.
The Collin College Rotaract Vampires pressed on to the top four, but stumbled on “venerable” leaving the Word Nerds to represent MISD in the final three.
Deborah Sanchez accurately spelled “excoriate” on the first go around, but their opponents were successful as well. The next word: revelatory. Sanchez conferred with her MISD team mates, then adjusted her glasses and carefully articulated the word, “Revelatory…”
But, it was not to be. An “e” instead of an “a”, and the Word Nerds were done.
In the end, the Torchmark Word Nerds outlasted Team A-W-E-S-O-M-E by successfully spelling “Czechoslovakian” and took home the title of 2013 MEF Spelling Bee Champion. McKinney ISD received the 2013 MEF Spelling Bee Spirit Award.
For Hanks, the event was a fun way to accomplish something important.
“I love participating in the MEF Spelling Bee!” she said.
“Raising money for scholarships for students in our district is a high priority, as we believe all students should have the opportunity to attend college. The Spelling Bee is a fun and engaging way to raise funds and engage the entire community in this cause. Our MISD came out in a big way to support us with fundraising and great spirit!”
MEF would like to thank the following teams and sponsors for participating: A+ Orthographers, Sponsored by Academics Plus (Zach Ennen, Eli Scott, Stephanie Talley); Civic Duties, Sponsored by City of McKinney (Travis Ussery, Mayor Pro Tem, Geralyn Kever, Brian Loughmiller, Mayor); E-N-C-O-R-E, Sponsored by Encore Wire (Steve Griffin, Lindsay Tawney, Brian Wright); McKinney Fire Department Fightin’ Fire Blasters, Sponsored by Heritage Eye Center (Danny Kistner, Fire Chief; Tim Mock, Assistant Chief; Kyle Easley, Battalion Chief); Independently Brilliant, Sponsored by Independent Bank (Brandi Rose, Robb Temple, Erin McCullough); LTBees, Sponsored by Legacy Texas Bank (Armando Fletes, Jennifer Dexter, Betsy Perez); McKinney ISD Word Nerds, Sponsored by McKinney ISD (Paige Hanks, Logan Faris, Deborah Sanchez); Raytheon’s Radical Reciters, Sponsored by Raytheon (Jeff Hunt, Karen Zupanic, Marc Garza); Collin College Rotaract Vampires, Sponsored by Rotary Club of McKinney and Institute of Healthy Families (Jackson Oliver, Khanishma Ashed, Tai Kekich); Tomes Auto Group, Sponsored by Tomes Auto Group (Melanie Corcoran, Josh Nguyen, Zack Phillips); The Bee’s Knees, Sponsored by Torchmark Corporation (Mark McAndrew, Al Bowie, Betsy McAndrew); Word Nerds, Sponsored by Torchmark Corporation (Pam Falcon, Paul Papciak, Megan Sullivan); Team A-W-E-S-O-M-E, Sponsored by Torchmark Corporation (Tony Pelly, Joe Gartenhaus, Jason Haynes).
Mike Livezey (Cutter Aviation), Lynda Swanner (MISD) and David Kelley with Nissan were judges for the Spelling Bee. Table sponsors included: Legacy Bank, Encore, Heritage, Sunrise Rotary, Torchmark, Independent Bank, Academics Plus, Tomes Auto Group, City of McKinney, FC Dallas and Raytheon. Additional underwriters of the event: Master Bee Keeper: Torchmark. Luncheon Sponsor: Independent Bank. Elimination Gong Sponsor: Nissan of McKinney. Centerpiece Sponsor: Crump’s Gardens. Joe Ownbey of www.OwnbeyPhotography.com was the official photographer for the event.
Pictured at Top: Torchmark Word Nerds (left to right): Pam Falcon, Megan Sullivan, Paul Papciak).
Pictured above, right: The MISD Word Nerds taset the agony of defeat: Left to right,Deborah Sanchez, Paige Hanks and Dr. Logan Faris
Pictured above, left:Glen Oaks Elementary School 5th grader Jackson Oliver of the Collin College Rotaract Vampires team