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Beauty and the Bee – Challange

Spelling Contest

By Pete Zamplas- The spelling contest of The Literacy Council of Buncombe County will be April 3, with a costumed twist and chance for colleagues in the audience to toss lifelines.

photos courtesy of LCBC.

Beauty and the Bee is the name in the annual event’s 28th year, as a spin-off of the famed musical Beauty and the Beast. It will be 6-9 p.m. that Wednesday, in The Mothlight at 701 Haywood Rd./Bus. 23 in West Asheville.

Fifteen three-adult teams will compete, and merely four openings remained as of press time Monday. Thus, interested people are urged to sign up ASAP. The winner a year ago was Malaprop’s The Buzz Killz, from the local bookstore.

So far, $1,376 has been raised toward the LCBC goal of $7,000, according to the group’s website. It lists these three registered teams as the early fundraising leaders: The Queen Bees at $514, Spelling Beasts $404, and Bees Louise with $375 raised.

It costs $250 to enter a team; that equals the cost to enroll a Buncombe County low-income student in the The Augustine Literacy Project ®. This program provides one-on-one tutoring of about 50 total teen or younger children in reading, writing and spelling.

This multi-sensory Orton-Gillingham approach connects letters with sounds, as developed by a neurologist and psychologist in the Thirties. Locally, its format is adjusted for each youth’s needs.

An Augustine volunteer tutor is trained for 70 hours in “research-based reading instruction including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, spelling and written expression.” LCBC claims a 100 percent success rate, replicating the project based at Holy Family Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill.

It was joyful to see a student “fully engrossed in the task at hand,” Julie Thomas states on the LCBC website about her Augustine tutoring. “You could see the light bulbs going off in his head. You could almost read his thoughts: ‘I’m reading! I’m Reading! I can do this!’”

LCBC reports that it provides volunteer tutoring for 350 local students each year.
Beyond the bee entry fee, a $100 donation counts for the team of your choice. That funds a half-year of the project’s learning materials per pupil.

A $50 donation pays to train an adult education volunteer tutor. Or, a $25 donation pays for workbooks for a person to learn English as a second language and to better read.

Team packets include a spelling word list from which words will be chosen, contest rules, and suggestions for raising money online to cover the team’s entry fee. Team members can make personal donations for that fee, then try to recoup it via friend’s reimbursements to them. Donations are fully tax-deductible.

Wearing costumes is optional for participants and the crowd; there are prizes for the best outfit. Admission is $10 per person, in the audience.

The audience can buy chances to assist their friends who are on teams, as enhancement for the benefit for the literacy council.

Further, the crowd is encouraged to dress in costumes and contribute to the event’s “beauty” tag. Organizers call this year’s bee the “most spirited and outrageous word challenge of your lives” and urges that spelling teammates need “spelling and concentration skills, in order to disregard the pandemonium caused by a costumed, cheering audience.”

A promotional phrase is “calling all bibliophiles, word-nerds, linguists and pageant queens.”

LCBC is based at 31 College Place, Suite B-221 in Asheville.
Call 254-3442 or email to to register a team in the spelling bee. Extension 204 is for volunteering as a tutor. Also call to find out more about the group and its activities, or check

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