Image Gallery: Annual Spelling Bee Provides 'Butyraceous' Evening
Wellesley Education Foundation's annual Spelling Bee raises funds for school projects.
The challenge to spell not only common, but rare and strange words, was answered by the 21st annual Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF) Spelling Bee. The first Thursday in November brings teams from all over town, including the Fire and Police departments, staff from Wellesley College, and High School Class Officers.
Three-person teams competed in rounds of six to eight teams. Each round, lead by Master of Ceremonies Mike Dowling, consisted of a practice round, two "easy" words (common), four less common words, and then as many challenging words were needed to choose a winner. Dowling is a Sportscaster for WCVB TV 5, and has performed the MC role for the last 21 years.
"All I do is show up and screw up the pronunciations," Dowling quipped, recognizing the volunteers who put the event together.
The first word of the night was "forester." Which all round one teams spelled without difficulty. The word "castanets" knocked out four of the eight teams, with the Wellesley Middle School PTO claiming the round with "tonsillitis" correctly.
Round two was a battle between the town's Elementary School PTOs. The round included words like "zephyr," "dimorphism," and "humidistat." The round went to Hunnewell School PTO, the only team to spell "ginglymus," which refers to a bone joint that allows movement in one plane only.
Wellesley High Schoolers made up the third and sixth round. The third round began with a practice word, for no points, which was a rare exception of a proper noun: "Keough." Referring, of course, to Andrew Keough, WHS principal who acted as time-keeper for the event.
Looking at the results, Dowling joked, "If you wanted points, you should have spelled it 'handsome' or 'smart.'"
The third round was won by the National Honors Society with the word "urbiculture," which refers to city practices and problems. Round six went to the Sophomore Class Officers with the word "cornice."
Joining these teams in the final round, the team from Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Wellesley College staff, and a team calling themselves "Butyraceous," a word meaning "butter-like," which they took from a previous years' Bee.
The first word in the final round knocked out all but the final two competitors, Hunnewell School PTO and Butyraceous. The word was "chonolith," which means "intrusive igneous rock of irregular form." A chonolith (pronounced with a hard "c" sound) is often found in a volcano.
The teams made their way through "Jocosity" and a handful of other words until a winner was found. The final word was "Ombrophilous," which is a characteristic of plants thriving in areas with high rainfall.
The winner was team Butyraceous.
The team came in second in the '07 Bee. The members, Sarah Deschenes, Stephanie Sheps and Stacy Braatz, originally met as part of the Wellesley Mothers Forum in the Working Mothers group, but later splintered off to form their own team. The team also has a mission:
"To eradicate the use of spell-check worldwide," Braatz explained.
They weren't the only winners of the evening. This event benefits WEF, which fund projects such as SMART boards, iPods and the 8th grade Robotics equipment. Butyraceous was, however, the only team walking out with a trophy.
"We're going to strap this to the roof of our car." Braatz joked, "got any bungee cords?"