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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
At this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition, the competition went on for so long that the event was forced to end on an eight-way tie when the organizers ran out of words that could challenge the young, elite spellers. This would not be an issue on Wednesday, when the Wellesley community gathered for the thirtieth annual WEF Spelling Bee inside the Sprague School Gymnasium.
After a brief explanation of the bee’s origins, the first round began with teams from the Police Department, Fire and Rescue, the wizard-costumed “spellbinders” from the Council on Aging, the School Committee, Board of Selectmen, Scholarship Foundation, and Wilder and Shea Himmelberger LLP. The police were thrown a softball when Mike Dowling made the first word, “contraband,” while noting, “In Wellesley, vaping products are now contraband,” about which he added, “we also give public service announcements up here.” While all teams handled that word, “conciliate,” “obliquity,” and “gymkhana” took out everyone but the lawyers, who emerged victoriously in round one.
Round two matched academic powerhouses Wellesley College and Babson College with Wellesley Bank and Brookline Bank, as well as the Tenacre School, the Wellesley Service League and the WHS Administration. After everyone survived “butchery,” “langoustine” took out all but Babson and the Brookline Bank, before “Mediterranean” gave Babson the win and yearlong bragging rights over Wellesley College.Round three matched WHS’ class officers from all four grades with the National Honor Society and Student Congress. While every group survived “megaton,” “millennium” took out some competitors (none of which were alive during the Y2K celebrations, or the launch of Will Smith’s legendary 1999 album “Willennium”) until “herbivorous” gave the junior class - adorned in Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts - the win.
In terms of performance, round four was not the Wellesley Public School system’s finest moment. In a round that went on forever when nobody could spell the word correctly to end it, the girls volleyball team, boys lacrosse and cross country teams, WHS Challenge Success, WHS Evolutions and the WHS Student Unification Programs floundered on challenging words like “jejunal”, “gesundheit” and “dysprosium,” before the Unification Program mercifully ended the round on “nauseous.”
The Wellesley school system’s reputation was saved soon after, though, as round five saw a group of Wellesley Middle School kids take out a bunch of real estate companies, Friends of METCO, and their own teachers (who were dressed like the Bee Gees) on the word “tracheole.”
Defending champion Health Advances LLC could not make it out of their first-round matchup, as “soubresaut” gave the Wellesley Hill Junior Women’s Club the win over the Community FUNd, World of Wellesley and Wellesley Soccer.
The final round saw Upham PTO prove themselves the smartest PTO around, taking out the PTO representatives from Hardy, Sprague, Hunnewell, WHS, Fiske and Schofield Schools on “dissevered.”
After the Bee Gees were awarded the “Team Spirit Award” for their costumes, the winners went on stage for the final round. After “acquiesced” and “hemachate,” “jarabe” took out everyone but the Upham PTO; they were declared the winners.
Bragging rights and potential business opportunities aside, the night was all about raising money for the Wellesley schools.
“We are so grateful to be co-chairing the bee,” explained Jenn Fallon. “This is the 30th year of the Wellesley Education Foundation Spelling Bee. This year, we have 47 registered teams and 64 generous donors, and we’ve raised over $50,000 for WEF (Wellesley Education Foundation), which provides educational funding for our schools.”
No, the people of Wellesley didn’t exhaust the dictionary the way the kids in the Scripps Bee did this year. But they did raise over $50,000 for a great cause - and have some fun doing it.