The Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce is set to test the spelling acumen of local teams, with its team spelling bee competition, set for June 12.
“When I was president, I was looking for a new event. I looked around at many other Chambers around the country, and that was one that caught my eye,” explained Mitch Rogers, a member of the Chamber.
On June 12, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Millsboro Town Center, teams of four will compete against each other to show off their spelling prowess. The cost per team is $100 or $25 per person. Teams may comprise family, friends or co-workers. Those who wish to compete must register for the event by May 27.
Spellers who are shy need not fear, as the groups of four work together, seated at a table. Each team will have 30 seconds to produce the correctly spelled word on paper before holding it up for judging.
“The teams work together at a table to come up with one spelling to submit,” Rogers explained.
“When you hear ‘spelling bee,’ you think back to elementary school or middle school, when you had to stand in front of a microphone and were scared to death,” said Amy Simmons, the Chamber’s executive director. “This is not how that goes. It’s fun.”
Rogers said the words competitors will be asked to spell will come from a secret list he has compiled.
“The words come from a list I developed,” said Rogers, who will also be the evening’s moderator. “In essence, what the secret list is is groups of words of similar difficulty. We’ll do up to four words per level of difficulty.”
All teams with the correct spelling will advance to the next round. However, teams that do not spell a word correctly can buy back into the competition for $5, until only two teams remain.
“I would like to see educators — whether it’s teachers or other facility or even school districts. I’d like to see competition among industry, like banks,” said Rogers, noting that civic groups, such as the Red Hat Ladies and garden clubs would be welcome.
“We’d love to see people coordinate what they’re wearing — have team T-shirts or wear red hats. That would be fantastic… with some cheerleaders in the audience dressed similarly with noisemakers or whatever. I think it would be great to get involvement beyond those competing.”
Spectators are welcome to watch the competition, for a $2 admission fee. Those who attend can enjoy desserts and wine, as well as have the chance to win some door prizes and a 50/50 raffle.
“Last time, we did some honey giveaways. We’re going to do that again this year for the participants, and door prizes for the spectators.”
Along with spectators, there will be a special guest fluttering about the town center.
“Our mascot is back. McBuzz, our mascot, will be buzzing about,” he said.
The overall winner of the competition will receive the coveted “Bee” trophy and bragging rights.
The Chamber held its first Bee in 2011, with three teams competing. The winning word was “ophthalmology.”
“I think it was received well,” Rogers said. “But we were disappointed with the lack of teams.”
Rogers said he believes spelling is an important aspect of one’s education and is excited to have those in the community showcase their spelling abilities.
“I’m excited. This is something I have wanted to do. I always deemed myself to be a pretty good speller. When I was in fifth grade, I came in second. I remember the girl who won won a pink Cadillac, which was more fitting to her than me,” he said with a laugh.
“I think it’s something that’s very important that I’m not sure younger adults or school-aged children get. I think it’s, for me, pride in back-to-basics. If we could have a math competition, I think that would be cool, too.”
The event supports the Chamber’s scholarship fund, which offers high school seniors who live in the 19966 and 19939 ZIP codes the chance to receive one of two $1,000 scholarships.
“Our scholarship is more need-based. We tend to help those who have the need,” explained Rogers, adding that college is expensive these days, even with scholarships.
Rogers and Simmons said they hope the Bee is well attended and the community enjoys the festivities.
“I hope the community will embrace it and that some businesses will get together and have fun with it,” said Simmons.
“I hope we have a lot of fun and showcase the excellent spellers that we have in the surrounding community,” added Rogers.