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Spelling Bee delights town, raises funds

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By Rama K. Ramaswamy and Jessamy Harrington

Last week, 55 teams competing in the Wellesley Education Foundation’s annual Spelling Bee at Sprague School raised approximately $62,000. Team Health Advances LLC, consisting of Melissa Lowder, Laura Gullet and Valerie Enriquez, took home the coveted trophy for the second time by spelling the word "adactylous.” They had previously won in 2015. WHS Freshman Class Officers, competing as Velma (Audrey Turco), Scooby (Laura Hoffman) and Shaggy (Brendan Althoff) from "Scooby Doo,” won the spirit award.

Hardy Beehives Photos by Jessamy Harrington

Hardy Beehives Photos by Jessamy Harrington

Marquee sponsors included Wellesley Bank Charitable Foundation, Babson College and Wellesley College. Mike Dowling emceed, and this year's Bee co-chairs were Christina Dougherty and Eileen Savarese. This year's spelling bee words were selected by WEF board members Lisa Hicks and Yolanda Tong.

“The Bee was full of energy, camaraderie and good-spirited competition, hallmarks of the night,” commented Jessamy Harrington, WEF board member and bee communications point-person. “The combination of the fun experience and funds raised make this event a win for everyone. Mike Dowling lightened the mood and opened each round by asking the teams to spell past and present left field positions of the Boston Red Sox. Andrew Benintendi, Heinie Manush, Carl Yastrzemski, Jonny Gomes, Ben Oglivie, Eric Hinske and Dante Bichette. Most proved too difficult, but the audience thoroughly enjoyed the teams’ attempts, causing laughter and entertainment for the crowd".

The Return of the Mompire. Photos by Jessamy Harrington

The Return of the Mompire. Photos by Jessamy Harrington

After seven rounds, Wellesley Middle School “2” won the second-chance raffle and gained a spot in the championship round, along with Hardy PTO, Wellesley United Soccer Club, Health Advances LLC, Collins/Elwy/Wrobel, WHS Boys Golf, Wellesley Service League, and Wilder, Shea & Himmelberger LLC.

As the round progressed, misspellings of the words "kaleidoscope" and “concatenate” eliminated a few teams. It only served to intensify the competition between Hardy PTO, Wellesley United Soccer Club, and Health Advances LLC.

“There were some really great teams - lots of teams - and lots of rounds that went on very long,” commented winning team member Melissa Lowder (Health Advances LLC). Team Health Care Advances LLC not only plans on proudly displaying the trophy in their office reception area, but defending their title next year.

“I think it was the best ever. It’s gotten consistently better every year, exponentially better,” said Mike Downling. “Health Advances was really happy to get their title back. It is always great to see kids compete - the WHS Boys Golf did a terrific job."

Bee winners Health Advances LLC with Mike Dowling. Photos by George Roberts

Bee winners Health Advances LLC with Mike Dowling. Photos by George Roberts

“We were thrilled at the outpouring of support from the community. This is a very important fundraiser for WEF and we are so grateful for all our sponsors, especially our marquee sponsors: Wellesley Bank Charitable Foundation, Babson, and Wellesley College,” said Christina Dougherty. “I have always loved the Spelling Bee because it is such a wonderful community event that unites so many different ages and community groups for a night of fun competition and festivities, in enthusiastic support of our schools. The Spelling Bee is an important event that raises money for The Wellesley Education Foundation. WEF has championed innovation, excellence, and inclusion in the Wellesley Public Schools.”

“We raised over $62,000 and 55 teams participated,” added Eileen Savarese. “It was so great to see all the excitement in the room. Everyone came out in full regalia to compete for the spirit award. It was a tough decision, but this year’s award went to the WHS Freshman Class Officers. Their Scooby Doo theme of Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby was tough to beat.”

Further information on the Wellesley Education Foundation is available at www.wellesleyeducationfoundation.org.

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