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70s-themed team triumphs in spelling bee to support literacy
Members of the Spelling Bee Gees team from the Forsyth County library system, from left, Linda Kelly, Laura Bradley and Stephen Kight, get a word from emcee Justin Harris during the annual Spell Check Live! event Tuesday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center. - photo by Crystal Ledford


Interested in helping Literacy Forsyth with adult education? More information can be found on the organization’s website,, or by contacting Annaliza Thomas at (770) 876-2011 or

Maybe they drew on some unseen power from their fluffy 1970s wigs and bellbottoms, or maybe it’s just because they spend most of their time around books.  

Whatever their secret, the Spelling Bee Gees took top honors in the Spell Check Live! competition.

The annual adult spelling bee is a fundraiser for Literacy Forsyth, a nonprofit that provides educational opportunities for adults, including reading and writing classes, GED preparation and courses for non-native English speakers.

The Spelling Bee Gees team — Forsyth County library employees Stephen Kight, Laura Bradley and Linda Kelly —  successfully navigated its way through every round of the event, which featured words such as “stethoscope” and “capitulation,” to eventually take home the traveling trophy.

In total, nine teams showed off their word expertise during the event, which typically raises about $10,000 for Literacy Forsyth.

As much a competition as the actual bee are the colorful costumes many of the teams don each year.

Besides the hippy-dippy Bee Gees, which also ended up taking the award for the evening’s best costumes, some of the more creative teams included the Forsyth County school system and the South Forsyth Rotary Club.

The school employees, dubbed the Good Spellas, took their cue from the movie “Good Fellas,” dressing as sleek Mafia members.

South Forsyth Rotarians took a more clownish approach, calling themselves the Word Incubators and stuffing pillows under their neon-colored shirts.

Second-place finishers, the Lanier Forsyth Rotary Club, clearly matched the team’s name, the Language Butchers, with long black aprons and shirts from a local meat market.

As for the Bee Gees, member Kight was considered the most valuable player by Bradley and Kelly.

“We’re really just his cheerleaders,” Kelly said. “He’s the one who does most of the work.”

Language Butchers members Beth Buursema, Torri Westmoreland and Craig Richman said the Bee Gees should watch their backs.

“We’ll be starting our boot camp training for next year at 5 o’clock tomorrow morning,” Richman joked. “It’ll be 50 push-ups for every word we missed tonight, so we’ll be ready for them next year.”

That friendly competition is something that means a lot to Annaliza Thomas, executive director of Literacy Forsyth.

“We love that the teams have so much fun with it and want to keep coming back year after year,” she said.

Thomas also noted the importance of the fundraising aspect of the bee.

“The money raised here is not just for Literacy Forsyth, but for the entire community,” she said. “With that money, we’re able to directly serve students.

“In 2012, we were able to serve 1,135 students. Any day in Forsyth County we could be serving 150 to 200 students.”

Due to the affluence of the county, Thomas noted that many people may mistakenly think Forsyth doesn’t have need for adult education programs.

“Here in Forsyth County, we have more than 12,000 people over age 22 who don’t have a high school diploma or GED,” she said. “Those are the people that we’re working to help every day.”