Clearwater adults test skills at Raise-a-Reader spelling bee

Alysha Piva, left, Nikki Vincent and Jenna Wilson compare notes as they work together to spell the word quay at the 2021 Raise-a-Reader Adult Spelling Bee held at the Dutch Lake Community Centre on Sept. 22. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Alysha Piva, left, Nikki Vincent and Jenna Wilson compare notes as they work together to spell the word quay at the 2021 Raise-a-Reader Adult Spelling Bee held at the Dutch Lake Community Centre on Sept. 22. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Judg, and YCS Clearwater and area Early Years Service Provider, Denica Kelly is handed a submission for the word agglutinate by Alexis Pearce of the Raft River teachers team. The teachers were the only team to correctly spell the word. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Judg, and YCS Clearwater and area Early Years Service Provider, Denica Kelly is handed a submission for the word agglutinate by Alexis Pearce of the Raft River teachers team. The teachers were the only team to correctly spell the word. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Members of the Raft River teachers team watched as Mason Kelly, the Adult Spelling Bee bee, pop one of their balloons after they failed to spell a word correctly. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Members of the Raft River teachers team watched as Mason Kelly, the Adult Spelling Bee bee, pop one of their balloons after they failed to spell a word correctly. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Sarah Affleck, left, and Carmella Mathieu, the Raft River PAC team, focus on ensuring the word they pass over to judge Kim Bridge is spelled correctly - or they lose one of their balloons. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Alexis Pearce, of the Raft River teachers adult spelling bee team, is ready with the team's submission. From r-l: Pearce, Lori Bradstock, Christine Green. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)

Mind-boggling words, dad jokes and a balloon-popping bee were all present at this year’s adult spelling bee, a fundraising event to support Raise-a-Reader.

Three teams, representing the Raft River PAC, Raft River teachers and Yellowhead Community Services, competed for the top spot in the multi-purpose room at the Dutch Lake Community Centre last Wednesday, Sept. 22, attempting to spell the chosen words correctly in each round. A fourth team, representing the Clearwater Rotary, was unable to attend.

Each team began the night with a few balloons, some given as freebies, others purchased with the funds going towards the fundraiser. The balloons were the team’s lifelines — misspell a word, lose a balloon. If a team lost all their balloons, they would be eliminated from the competition, with the option to buy back in.

Mayor Merlin Blackwell was the spelling bee host, responsible for reading each word aloud and using the word in a sentence. He also told a few really good “dad jokes.” Each word was looked over to ensure proper spelling by judges Denica Kelly and Kim Bridge.

The competition consisted of three rounds of five words, including a tie-breaker round if needed.

The night looked promising as each team spelled their way through the warm up round, providing the proper spelling for “best.”

Four words later, however, the first balloon was popped. The Raft River PAC team failed to spell “afghan” properly, leading Mason Kelly, the Adult Spelling Bee bee, to fly on over and pop one of their balloons.

The teams made their way through the first and second rounds, but not without the loss of a few balloons. All teams failed to spell the words “vermilion” and “ampulla,” while the word “anaerobic” caused the Raft River PAC their last balloon. But, because it was a fundraiser and they were having so much fun, the PAC team bought two more.

While oddly placed vowels or silent consonants led contestants to laugh and shake their head in disbelief (the “ae” in anaerobic or afghan’s hidden h), one word made everyone stop and go, “Huh?”

The third-round stumper? Syzygy.

The word, an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth and either the moon or a planet, ended up being the night’s only “bye word” or mulligan. Each team got a pass, and no one lost a balloon.

But, the failure to correctly spell the following word, “disproportionately,” led Mason the bee to pop the last balloon of the YCS team.

And with the correct spelling of “tercentenary,” the last two teams, Raft River PAC and the Raft River teachers, found themselves in two sudden death rounds. The final word of the night, “specious,” led to the popping of the PAC team’s final balloon, and the Raft River teachers were the Adult Spelling Bee winners.

At the end of the night, a total of $2,362 had been raised for the Raise-a-Reader campaign, which will be matched by the provincial government. All of the funds raised will stay in the Clearwater community and go towards programs such as youth and adult tutoring, one-to-one reading, library books for school children, Blue River play group and garden boxes at Raft River Elementary.

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