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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Come One, Come All: The 34th Annual Adult Spelling Bee

The Brunswick County Literacy Council (BCLC) held their 34th Annual Adult Spelling Bee on Tuesday, May 21 in the Odell Williamson Auditorium, located on the grounds of Brunswick Community College where thirteen teams of two competed to win the yearly title of Brunswick County’s Best Adult Spellers. Additionally, a silent auction containing over 100 items donated by local businesses and a Wine Pull were held during the event, with all proceeds going to support the many programs offered by BCLC. Masters of Ceremonies Kim Loucks and Carolyn Hicks-Loucks, as well as Rick Skorny, the President of the Board of Directors, highlighted just a few of the programs currently being offered in their opening speeches—literacy tutoring for adults, financial classes, GED tutoring and English lessons for those for whom English is not their first language. Planned for the future are more classes related to technology and computers for individuals who have found themselves needing to brush up on these skills, often for reasons of employment. Mr. Skorny shared a particularly touching story about how one of his first clients had been a grandmother who wanted to learn to read so that she would be able to read a story to her grandchild, highlighting that BCLC’s programs are for any adult, for any age and for any reason, to have a place to come to for help in literacy, while Mr. Loucks underscored that literacy is for everyone, recalling a former client who worked in the logging industry and came to the agency to help him brush up on his reading skills for his job in order to be able to read the safety manuals and instructions for loggers.

Live music by Bill Fritsch filled the room as guests arrived, treated not only to Mr. Fritsch’s melodic offerings but also to a generously endowed table of wraps, hors d’oeuvres and cupcakes with little bees pressed delicately on each one. When this reporter inquired as to whom had catered the event as the food was not only delicious but beautifully presented, one volunteer, Eileen Farrell, was happy to say the food was provided at no charge by BCLC volunteers, always cautious with the funding allocated to BCLC to ensure every dollar is stretched as far as possible so they can provide their clients with the best literacy services available.

Sue Railing, the Program Coordinator in charge of Volunteer Services, was a wealth of information regarding how the public can get involved in volunteering their time to BCLC, while Mr. Loucks stressed the agency’s need for more tutors and implored anyone interested to please contact a staff member if they had even one hour a week to spare, noting that many volunteers are retirees, particularly from the education field, but that no specialized degrees or certifications are required to become a tutor with BCLC as all training is provided by the agency. One must only possess a minimum of a GED to become a tutor, so if you have been looking for a worthy organization to give your time to, there is no finer agency than this one and all interested members of the public should contact Ms. Railing at [email protected] to sign up for a Volunteer Orientation session.

Mrs. Caron Myers, a yearly participant in the Bee for the past three years, was happy to share her excitement with this reporter, recalling how one year she had nearly made it to the final round, only to be tripped up by the word “onomatopoeia”. Mrs. Myers’ enthusiasm was infectious, as she chatted with everyone in the room, clad in a sparkling navy blue ball gown with her teammate, Heather LaMora. Their team, the Dunestruck Divas, ended up winning an award for having the biggest cheering section as well as tying for “Best Costumes” with the Speech Bees, Joan Hanlon Morris and Meagan Gore-Herring from Speech Solutions, Inc. who were dressed as bumblebees.

The teams competing included The Anchor Pollinators (Gary Grabowski and Amie Coffey, sponsored by the Anchor Baptist Church), Spell Bound (Karin Eddy and Tony Iannotta, sponsored by Seaside United Methodist Church), Dunestruck Divas (Caron Myers and Heather LaMora, sponsored by Heather LaMora Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage), Speech Bees (Joan Hanlon Morris and Meagan Gore-Herring, sponsored by Speech Solutions, Inc.), Eclections (Spring Harkins and Susan Dana Kennedy, sponsored by Truist Bank), Bekah and Barb’s Bald Bee Boys (Keith Duclos and Neil Crowell, sponsored by Seaside United Methodist Church), Powers that Bee (Pat Linnell and Ryan Powers, sponsored by ASAP Realty), FOLSOI Spell Checkers (Lynne Sniffen and Jeanette Harrison-Sullivan, sponsored by Friends of the Library Southport Oak Island), BEEch Boys (Deputy Bryant Holden and Deputy Paul DiVitantonio, sponsored by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office), Steve Squared (Steven Barger and Steve Gainey, sponsored by Lynette Lowrimore), Lucy and Ethel (Jack DeGroot and Sandy Raymond, sponsored by Deanne Neuman), Brewin’ Bees (Josh Palmer and Tiffany Lynn, sponsored by the Leland Brewing Co.) and Nancy Boston and Howard Lepovetsky (sponsored by the Shallotte Rotary Club).

The evening’s judges included a panel of three—Sheriff Brian Chism, Linda Stinson from RLS Focused Solutions, and the beloved former BCLC President, Louis Washington. Dylan Phillips, the editor of the Brunswick Beacon, was the official word pronouncer, far from an easy task when the words bandied about included “lachrymose”, “gnathonic” and “legerdemain”.

In the end, the first place winners were Team 1, the Anchor Pollinators, Gary Grabowski and Amie Coffey, while Team 13, Nancy Boston and Howard Lepovetsky, took second place. We at Cape Fear Voices would like to extend our congratulations to the night’s winners and this reporter felt as though everyone who came to the Bee was a winner for getting to share in the joy of such a lovely celebration of the written word with the mission of empowerment through literacy in Brunswick County. This is surely an event to mark on your calendar every year where you will meet some of the kindest and most hardworking people I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with. A very special thanks to Melissa Warren, the Executive Director of BCLC and her team for tirelessly dedicating themselves to the very worthwhile cause of giving the gift of literacy and adult education to as many people as possible.

Photo by Nemichandra Hombannavar on Unsplash

Editor’s Note:  Rachel Marbach is a new writer for Cape Fear Voices, we welcome her to the team. 


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