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By JEN CARDINES
The stakes were high during the Southington Education Foundation’s seventh annual spelling bee. Eighteen three-person teams participated in four, single-elimination rounds in order to crown one winning team at the high school auditorium on Thursday, April 20.
Who would claim first place? Could last year’s champions be defeated?
Bee Master Stephen Proffitt recited words and their definitions while Southington’s superintendent of schools Tim Connellan and language arts coordinator Stephanie Lawlor evaluated the spelling with a cartoon cutout “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”
“I love doing this kind of thing,” said Proffitt, a first-year Bee Master. “It’s fun to interact with the audience, and it’s all for a terrific cause.”
Although he was a novice, Proffitt kept the audience entertained with jokes about how quickly some teams’ “claim to fame” was, and he offered good-natured jokes about the colorful costumes seen on stage—whether it was formal gowns with tiaras, matching tee-shirts, witches hats, or 1980s apparel—each team brought a unique sense of fashion to the competition.
Southington High School students from the CyberKnights robotics Team 195 opened up the show with a presentation of the 2017 robot “Knightro.” Students demonstrated how the robot operates, driving it across the stage and shooting balls into a basket that mimicked this year’s robotic competition.
Then, came the main event…
It’s no ordinary spelling bee. Teams of three work together to spell out words, which were written on white boards instead of verbally recited. Participants proudly raised the boards over their heads when time was up, hoping to receive a thumbs up from Connellan or Lawlor.
In round one, the Queen Bees came out on top, followed by the SEA-BC’s in round two. Last year’s champions, the Rotary Club, continued their success when they were named round three winners. In the fourth round, South End Spells found victory. The four teams then faced off in the final round.
Team Rotary Club, comprised of Kate Sirignano, Gloria Brown, and Kristine Noli , fought to defend their championship title. In the end, they carried their first place trophy off the stage for the second consecutive year.
The winning women joked about how they studied before coming to the competition. “It was a lot of pressure,” one said.
The trio first entered the SEF spelling bee three years ago and finished in second place. Now with two trophies under their belt, they said they are already planning for a “three-peat” next year.
Money raised from the Spelling Bee will continue to support grant opportunities and the mission of the SEF. Since its inception in 2009, the Southington Education Foundation has awarded over $200,000 in grants.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email us at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.