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Library team nabs spelling bee
Adult competition a literacy fundraiser
Spelling bee 1
The Blonde Bombspells, from left, Donna Brinson, Joanne Tolleson and Sara Harrison, compete during Spell Check Live! 2010 on Monday at the Cumming Playhouse. - photo by Jim Dean

Some of the words from Monday night’s Spell Check Live! spelling bee:

Goliard — Any of a class of wandering students of the late Middle Ages who wrote satirical Latin verse and often served as minstrels and jesters.
Ailurophile — A person who is strongly attracted to or devoted to cats.
Sesquipedalian — Using, or characterized by the use of, long words.
Cassowary — A family of large, flightless birds of Australia.
Lambrequin — A drapery hanging from a shelf or covering the upper part of a window or doorway.

Source: Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition

It all came down to a Medieval fiddle and an Egyptian rock.

The Library Lexicons spelled “gigue,” the fiddle, and “porphyry,” the rock, to take the win Monday during Spell Check Live! 2010, a fundraiser for Literacy Forsyth.

The nonprofit promotes adult literacy in the county by providing free tutoring for low-level and non-reading adults, free English and GED classes and practice exams.

During the seventh annual adult spelling bee, nine three-person teams faced tricky words most people have probably never heard of to compete for the coveted title at the Cumming Playhouse.

Wordsmith Gay Hammond, a self-proclaimed philologist, or literary expert, offered up 57 words to the talented teams. Each received one mulligan in exchange for a $100 donation to Literacy Forsyth.

The words came primarily from the classic book “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and words misspelled in previous competitions.

Some words resulting in team eliminations included “fulgurate,” “bibliopegy” and “hircine,” a word meaning “goat-like,” which has stumped teams for seven years now.

The defending champions, the Blonde Bombspells of Lanier Technical College, were knocked out in the fourth round after attempting to spell “nauplius,” a type of shellfish.

The Library Lexicons defeated the Justice League — made up of Superior Court Judge Jeffery Bagley, District Attorney Penny Penn and lawyer Renee Welch — in the tough spat for the top spot.

“I think this is a record,” Hammond said. “I think this is the most words I’ve ever given in a final round.”

Forsyth County Public Library staff members Donna Fowler, Stephen Kight and Penny Mraz brought home the third win for the library team.

“It’s not as threatening because you work as a team and write things down instead standing up there and having to speak,”
Fowler said of the competition’s format.

The group studied words previously missed and selections from the Harper Lee novel in preparation, Mraz said.

Mraz and Kight were both first-time members to a spelling team, but Kight had a couple spelling bee wins from his school days under his belt.

The group entered the competition in teal shirts, the library’s color, but other groups went a little wackier with their costumes.

The United Way’s Bee Givers — John Goode, Luke Haymond and Skip Putnam — won the costume contest for their “Three Stooges” outfits.

Nerds, cows and butterflies also graced the stage.

“One of the best kept secrets is that spelling bees can be tons of fun,” Hammond told the audience. “It’s not all sweaty, fainting children.”