Spelling for an education

GREENFIELD — “Quinquennially” means something that happens for five years, or every five years, according to the dictionary; but the word itself brought Eli Lilly its third win in a row — and eighth since 2000 — in the Hancock County Adult Literacy Coalition’s 27th annual spelling bee conducted Tuesday night at the Hancock County Public Library.

Each year, the competition draws participants from local businesses and organizations who work as a team to correctly spell a given word. The community event serves as the largest fundraiser of the year for the literacy coalition, which primarily supports those working to obtain a high school equivalency diploma.

Tuesday’s contest, involving teams from nine local businesses and organizations, went quickly, but not without some controversy.

Debates about misheard words and time limit rules added a bit of spark to the friendly competition.

In the eighth round, the field was reduced to two teams, Greenfield Kiwanis Club and Eli Lilly/Elanco, for the head-to-head showdown. After several successful spellings, the Kiwanians stumbled on “hamadryad” (a mythological nymph), which Lilly’s team spelled correctly. Then, Nancy Mann delivered the final blow with an accurate recitation of “quinquennially.”

Teammates were allowed to collaborate on the spelling of the word before one approached the microphone to spell before a panel of judges.

“My daughter (team captain Michele Roberts) had studied that word,” Mann said afterward. “She knew that and gave it to me.

“This was her first year, and she provided the winning spelling,” she added.

The evening’s first near-stumble came when Bob Burrows of the library’s team didn’t hear the “d” at the end of “dislocated.” With prompting from the bee’s moderator — and a little encouraging from the audience to give Burrows another chance — he finished the word.

In the second round, the women of Psi Iota Xi had to “suppress” their disappointment when their spelling came up one “p” short, making them the first team eliminated. The next to fall was the Hancock County Bar Association, when former long-time pronouncer Tom Cone stumbled, spelling “eligible” instead of the assigned word, “illegible.”

Lexie Dillon, a training coordinator with Greenfield Banking Co. joked during introductions that she was commemorating “10 years of losing.”

Sinistral — a word meaning left-handed — was the team’s downfall Tuesday.

Still, Dillon enjoys participating, she said.

“I love it; I really do,” Dillon said. “I have a lot of fun with it. I like learning new words – I look up the definitions and the pronunciation.”

It was all in good fun and for a good cause. Literacy coalition president Mary Lynn Burrows and Danielle Daugherty, executive director of LINK (Leaders In Navigating Knowledge), dressed as bees to distribute prizes and raise awareness of their organizations’ work.

Many coalition clients also utilize support services through LINK, which aids adults who are pursuing higher education opportunities.

Burrows said the proceeds from the bee, which come to around $1,000, help students of the Greenfield Learning Center finish high school and pursue post-secondary education.

“Thanks to the efforts of the learning center, 40 students received their high school equivalency certificate during the 2014-15 school year,” she said.

The money raised also helps fund $500 scholarships awarded by the coalition.

“For some people, $500 for a scholarship isn’t that much, but these are different students,” Burrows said. “They have trouble getting transportation, they have trouble getting jobs. So this $500 really makes a difference in their lives.”

One recipient of three scholarships given in the last year works at the library. Elizabeth Davis of Greenfield, who had been home-schooled and went to the learning center to finish high school, is studying library science at Ivy Tech.

“Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to be taking the classes that I am right now,” Davis said. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for the coalition helping me get my diploma and helping me get back to school, I’d be stuck in the same dead-end job. But now that I can go to college and am able to move up, I can have more opportunities, which has made a huge difference in my life.”

Teams participating also included the Upsilon Chapter of Tri-Kappa, Psi Iota Xi Sorority and the Rotary Club. NineStar Connect had entered but didn’t field a team, so the fee was counted as a donation to the coalition, Burrows said.

At a glance

Nine teams participated in the 27th annual Hancock County Adult Literacy Coalition spelling bee. Eli Lilly/Elanco was crowned the winner.

Eli Lilly / Elanco – winner

Greenfield Kiwanis Club – out in round 12; misspelled “hamadryad”

Rotary Club of Greenfield – out in round 8; misspelled “disinterred”

Hancock County Public Library – out in round 7; misspelled “phlegmatic”

Greenfield Banking Co. – out in round 7; misspelled “sinistral”

Daily Reporter – out in round 7; misspelled “vociferous”

Kappa Kappa Kappa, Upsilon Chapter – out in round 6; misspelled “nonnegotiable”

Hancock County Bar Association – out in round 5; misspelled “illegible”

Psi Iota Xi Sorority – out in round 2; misspelled “suppress”

NineStar Connect – no team, fee donated

How would you have done?

Spellers made their way through dozens of words pulled from the 2002 Scripps Howard spelling book during Tuesday’s event. Here’s a sampling of words they were challenged to spell.

  • Wafflestomper: a hiking boot with a lug sole
  • Doughty: brave; persistent 
  • Vociferous: vehement or clamorous 
  • Kielbasa: a well-seasoned type of sausage 
  • Panegyric: a public speech or published text that praises something or someone 
  • Aspartame: a sweet substance used as an artificial sweetener
  • Hamadryad: a mythological creature who lives in a tree and dies when the tree dies (of Greek and Roman mythology)
  • Diopter: a unit of refractive power that is equal to the reciprocal of the focal length (in meters) of a given lens.
  • Sinistral: left-handed

Source: Merriam-Webster