Who: Houston Center for Literacy
What: 26th Annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee
Where: White Oak Music Hall
The Scoop: How does the Houston Center Literacy Spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s? By gathering some of Houston’s most savvy word nerds for a grown-up spelling bee. The event raised close to $200,000 to support adult education and skills development programs in Greater Houston and gave locals an opportunity to flex their spelling skills over dinner by Cordua Catering and Sprinkles cupcakes for dessert.
Black, white and pops of yellow were the perfect colors for those buzzing around the fundraiser chaired by John and Brigid Fitzpatrick and Honorary Chairs Annie and Campbell Eifler.
Teams came with their game faces on and plenty of clever names such as The Stingettes, Sorry/Autocorrect, V & Bees and Buzz Words. The groups followed many of the National Spelling Bee rules, and utilizing words from the national competition lists. Teams could earn “saves” to stay in the competition and raise additional funds for HCL at the same time.
The Stingettes, Selene Escalare and Karina Zemel, represented The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services for the win, besting the others with the correct spelling of “ogee” which means "a curve resembling the shape of an elongated S,” in case you were wondering. The Spell-tastics, sponsored by Stephanie and Frank Tsuru took home best team name honors.
H-E-B returned again as presenting sponsor of this unique evening. Over a dozen teams of two competed in the Bee. Lisa Malosky was “Head Mistress” for the evening and encouraged audience participation to assist the spelling teams, with such clever names such. Logophile Linda Marshall was the “Spell Master,” Ruben Dominguez, morning anchor of FOX 26 was the “Dean of Spelling,” Ashley Turner, the First Daughter of Houston and a health care executive as “Dean of Grammar,” and Ernie Manouse, host and content producer on KUHT TV PBS Channel 8, was the “Dean of Phonetics”.
Those spotted buzzing about in the crowd included: Elaine and Marvy Finger, Diane Englet, Stephanie Tsuru, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Julie Baker-Fink, Kelley Lubanko, Sarah and Brad Bracewell, Sydney and Robert Eifler, Jenni and Nick Swyka, Peyton and Alex Popp, Coble and Jeff Jorgensen, Mary and David Klein, Molly and Matt LaFauci, Martha and Aris Macris, David Joost, Charles Litton, Mark Sullivan, and Susie Criner.