Spellbound Soiree

Local word nerds battle at buzzy Houston spelling bee

Local word nerds battle at buzzy Houston spelling bee

Robin Mohan, Rachel Weir, Kathleen Mundy, Emily Glassel
Robin Mohan, Rachel Weir, Kathleen Mundy, Emily Glassel. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Brigid and John Fitzpatrick/Spelling Bee
Brigid and John Fitzpatrick. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
 Tay Carey, Coble Jorgensen, Peyton Popp, Jenni Swyka
Tay Carey, Coble Jorgensen, Peyton Popp, Jenni Swyka. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Back Annie and Campbell Eifler.
Annie and Campbell Eifler. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Ernie Manouse,Ashley Turner, Leisa Holland Nelson, Ruben Dominguez
Ernie Manouse, Ashley Turner, Leisa Holland Nelson, Ruben Dominguez. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Spelling Bee Teams
The Spelling Bee Teams. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Max and Lauren Barrett
Max and Lauren Barrett. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Stephanie Tsuru, Julie Baker Fink
Stephanie Tsuru, Julie Baker Fink. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Jenni and Nick Swyka
Jenni and Nick Swyka. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Coble Jorgensen, Peyton and Alex Popp
Coble Jorgensen, Peyton and Alex Popp. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Robin Mohan, Rachel Weir, Kathleen Mundy, Emily Glassel
Brigid and John Fitzpatrick/Spelling Bee
 Tay Carey, Coble Jorgensen, Peyton Popp, Jenni Swyka
Back Annie and Campbell Eifler.
Ernie Manouse,Ashley Turner, Leisa Holland Nelson, Ruben Dominguez
Spelling Bee Teams
Max and Lauren Barrett
Stephanie Tsuru, Julie Baker Fink
Jenni and Nick Swyka
Coble Jorgensen, Peyton and Alex Popp

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 FingerDiane 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.