Participants from across Ithaca will compete on March 1 in the Ithaca Public Education Initiative’s 22nd Annual Adult Spelling Bee, spelling the toughest words in the dictionary to lay claim to the coveted, so-called “Fuzzy Bee Trophy.”
Approximately 30 teams of three will participate this year, each sponsored by a local business or school in the hopes of raising $27,000. To reduce the stress of competition, teams of spellers will write down words on whiteboards, rather than spelling out loud. Participants are also invited to come in costume, adding a note of levity to the event.
“A spelling bee is something everyone has a connection to and it brings to mind being in school,” said Steven Manley, executive director of the IPEI. “It’s also an opportunity for adults to be a little silly and remember their school days.”
IPEI is a non-profit group that raises money to provide additional resources for students and teachers in the Ithaca School District.
“Twenty-three years ago, we were a new organization raising money to support teachers, and a wonderful man by the name of Ralph Jones brainstormed the idea [of a spelling bee],” Manley told The Sun.
All proceeds will go towards IPEI’s grant initiatives, which aim to foster innovation and partnerships in the education system.
“During the 2018-2019 school year, IPEI funded 42 projects and programs across the Ithaca City School District,” IPEI said on their Facebook page. “These innovative ideas benefit teachers and students at all grade levels at every school at the Ithaca City School District.”
Last year’s spelling bee boasted 250 attendees and 30 competing teams, who fought for the trophy over words like “pizzicato” and “anodyne.” The IthacaSTEM Hexaplexes, a spelling team sponsored by WestHill Graphics, took home the winning title as the program raised an impressive $25,000 for IPEI’s causes.
It remains to be seen who will buzz their way to the finish line this year, claiming victory over the 22nd Spelling Bee and concluding another successful fundraising event for the IPEI.
“We would love to see individuals come down the Hill from Cornell or come across town from the high school and join us,” Manley said. “It’s a good time and it’s a chance to get out of the house on a Sunday, support a good cause, see people in the community and share about what IPEI and the school district can make possible.”
People who would like to support the cause can contribute by placing ads in the spelling bee program or donating an item for the silent auction that will be held during the event.
The event, sponsored by Warren Real Estate and Cayuga Medical Center, will run from 1:30 to 5 p.m. in the Ithaca High School Gymnasium. Attendance for spectators is free and includes refreshments catered by Cornell Dining through McCormick’s Restaurant.