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Mary Lyon and the Annual Spelling Bee

Phil, Cameron and Pat – Prescriptive Orthographers

Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College, was born in Buckland in 1797. Nowadays the Mary Lyon Foundation supports local education in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts which include the town of her birth. Last night my team, the Prescriptive Orthographers sponsored by local Baker Pharmacy, was one of 25 teams who participated in our Annual Spelling Bee.

Robert Strong Woodward Wordsmiths

Every team got themselves up in more or less outrageous costumes. The Woodward Wordsmiths even brought the car that famous local artist Robert Strong Woodward used to travel around our hilltowns to find places to paint. He was quite fond of Heath and even built a little studio up on Burnt Hill at the edge of the blueberry fields. From that site now, on a clear day, you can see the towers of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst more than 50 miles away.

Spelling Bee

Since this was a team spelling bee the Spell Master pronounced the word, used it in a sentence and then pronounced it again. Then the teams had 30 seconds! to write it on their whiteboard and hold it up for the judges to review. Our team was  eliminated by the word CIRRHOSIS. We pondered – two Rs? Where are the Ss? Is there an H?  We were wrong. And out.

FRGOG COGitatiors win!

The FRGOG is the Franklin County Council of Governments that gives local towns services and expertise. Look at the great brains on  those COGitators. This, the final round, took a long time. Three of the five finalist teams were either all wrong or all right through words like lachrymal, irascible, paen, arrythimia, psephology, gallimaufry and sphingine. I will leave it to you to find definitions.  ACCOUCHEUR is the word that won them the Big Trophy. An accoucheur is one who assists at a birth, like a midwife. The COGitators also  won a  trophy for the best  costume!

Cindy Fisher and Me

When all the fierce competition, and the shouting and prize winning is over, we contestants resume our friendships. Cindy Fisher, artist and great speller,  and I compared notes. She was on The Classics team from the Buckland Library.

Now you might wonder what a Spelling Bee post is doing on a garden blog. The word COTYLEDON took out a couple of  teams during  our round. Then one or two contestants looked at me sharply because they knew I was a gardener and was familiar with cotyledons – An embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed. It’s true. I do rejoice at the sight of emerging cotyledons.

4 comments to Mary Lyon and the Annual Spelling Bee

  • I rejoice at the sight of cotyledons, as well, though I couldn’t have spelled that word if my life depended on it! :)) Looks like a fun time for everyone.

  • I love this post, Pat! Sorry I missed the Spelling Bee but I’m so happy to have this wonderful glimpse of what seemed like a grand evening. With admiration from a former middle school school spelling champ:)

  • Pat

    Kate – It was fun, but I don’t really think French words are entirely fair. Accoucheur is not in common use.
    Helene – Maybe you should get on a team next year! It is great fun.

  • How fun is that! As a former elementary school spelling champion, I salute y’all!

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