The conference room was abuzz with superhero costumes and sparkly boas Thursday evening at Literacy Forsyth’s 17th annual adult spelling bee.
Spell Check Live was held at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, drawing a crowd of more than 100 people.
President and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, James McCoy, led the event, in which seven teams competed to win the title of best speller.
Forsyth County Public Library’s team, The League of Super Spellers, was named champion of the event.
Second place went to Spellsalot, the Rotary Club of Forsyth County’s team.
The Wonder Bees – three South Forsyth Rotary Club women dressed in Wonder Woman costumes – won the prize for best costume.
Spell Check Live functions as a yearly fundraiser for Literacy Forsyth, a nonprofit that provides “adult literacy services that educate, build self-sufficiency, and strengthen the community’s economic base,” according to the organization’s website.
It offers free tutoring, free English classes, scholarships for GED classes and other services to low-level and non-reading adults.
Established in 2003, the organization boasts that it has aided more than 10,000 people in Forsyth County, though executive director Rebecca Eller said there are still nearly 13,000 residents without a diploma.
She said with more than 31,000 people speaking a language other than English at home, “access to these types of programs is really important.”
“I always think the most successful part of the evening is getting the different parts of the community to come together to support literacy education,” she said. “It’s really meaningful to see people from so many different areas come together for one cause.”
They also come together for the raffles and participants’ costumes, which often bring laughs.
“I love the costume contest,” Eller said.
Collective “what’s?” echoed through the crowd as McCoy called out word after word, many of which attendees had never heard before. (To retain full transparency, Kayla Robins, FCN editor, was a judge for the event.)
The teams knew the majority of the words, however, and Eller said she was pleased with the turnout.
“We had more teams than we have had in past years,” she said. “Teams [came] from different areas of the community, and it’s really meaningful that the rotaries and the libraries continue to support [us.]
“We also had a team from the Democratic women, which was a first.”
The winning word, gesundheit, a German/Yiddish word often used in response to someone sneezing, came easily to The League of Super Spellers.
This was their third time winning the bee.
All in all, Eller said, the event was a success, and she looks forward to next year.
“We have more English students than we can serve; we are training more English teachers now,” she said. “Events like this help to build the funds so that we can grow our infrastructure and help to reach everybody who is looking for the services.”