Best spellers: Southington’s ‘Win’-men for Progress

Southington Women for Progress captured the 2018 SEF Spelling Bee title and spoiled the Rotary Club’s quest for a third consecutive trophy. (Photo by Jerry Belanger, courtesy of Southington Women for Progress)



The Southington Education Foundation held their eighth annual Community Spelling Bee at the high school Thursday evening, and emerging organization, Southington Women for Progress, came out victorious.

The spelling bee brings together local organizations in town to compete in teams of three through four rounds of spelling questions, presented by “Bee Master” Stephen Proffitt with two judges, Southington Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan and language arts coordinator Stephanie Lawlor helping to decide the fate of the teams.

Four teams compete in each round. One incorrect response eliminates a team from the round. The round winners then compete in one final round with one team coming out on top.

The spelling bee is part of SEF’s annual fundraising campaign. Each team is required to raise $300 to participate. With sixteen teams competing, the event rose a total of $4,800. They also collected donations of both monetary contributions and nonperishable food items at the event itself.

“Southington Women for Progress was proud to support the Southington Education Foundation as a team in their annual Spelling Bee, and even prouder to take home the trophy,” said Erica Roggeveen Byrne. “We are excited to be partners in the work of equity and educational excellence in our schools.”

Byrne said it was a “true team effort.” The winning word that clenched the victory for the team was “viand.” Other words they received include Darjeeling, solder, rappel, myrrh, disclaimant, and vermicelli.

“We will definitely return next year to defend the title, and we will be thinking of a good, pun-ny name for our team,” said Byrne.

SWFP’s team included Byrne, Jessica Christiance, and Megan Mele. The team defeated last year’s reigning champions, the Southington Rotary Club.

SEF provides funding for programs and activities not financed through public resources by raising money through several community-based fundraising activities each year. Through a written grant request program, teachers in the public school may apply for SEF funds.

The nonprofit organization also provides two scholarships each year for Southington seniors in high school.

“Southington Public Schools is an outstanding school system, with a great curriculum, and we are proud to be a supplement to that,” said SEF executive board co-chair Michelle LeBrun-Griffin. “With the current fiscal state of affairs, it is ever-more important to be involved in Southington Public Schools.”

Since founded in 2009, SEF has awarded over $200,000 in grants to support education in the Southington community. The annual spelling bee is a key fundraising event for the program’s operations.

“It’s a really fun, interactive contest,” said co-chair Gail Duffy. “The teams have fun with it and get creative with costumes, themes, and funny team titles. It’s just a great community event.”

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