The 26th Wellesley Education Foundation welcomed a record 58 teams to its 26th annual Spelling Bee, which raised over $54,000 to fund enrichment programs for the Wellesley Public Schools. This year’s winners, Health Advances, a company that apparently operates at the intersection of science, technology, and business strategy, came the heck out of nowhere (well, Weston) to win the big trophy and year-long bragging rights.
Their winning word: threnody. Definition: a song, hymn, or poem of mourning composed as a memorial to a dead person. Also, as you probably already know, Threnody is a fictional character created by Marvel Comics for the X-Men series. She’s rather a dark character, in constant mental agony and often delusional. Sort of like all the teams who thought that this might be their year. Too harsh? Nah. I can talk like this. I, too, have been an also-spelled.
Master of Ceremonies and long-time WCVB-TV sportscaster Mike Dowling was on hand, as always, to call out the words as only he can, and WHS Principal Jamie Chisum zealously worked the gong to warn teams that only five seconds remained to spell. Really, he has too much fun with that gong. But let’s not take it away from him. I suspect it’s a major reason he continues on with us.
Scene: a room in the castle (which looks suspiciously like the Sprague School gym)
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
Good point, Hamlet, onto the words. Here are a few that the teams faced: cinephile, siccative, dissymmetry, osteocyte, illimitable, annulet (not to be confused with amulet), kepi, mesocracy, selenic, garrulity, and many more. So, so many more.
Faced with the certainty of so, so many more words, teams, once they commit to this insanity, are at least given a good idea of what they might face on the big night. To get this good idea, each team of three competitors pays a $500 fee to compete. For that price, they are supplied with the most expensive word study list ever, which they generally parcel out by thirds among themselves. From there, they make an heroic attempt to memorize each and every word. Some spellers make endless flashcards. Some press their kids into quizzing service. Others wing it and glance at the words when they have a spare minute.
The toughest of the tough, winnowed down over seven rounds, then moved on to the final round. Here are the finalists and the word that got them there:
The Law Offices of David Himmelberger (cinephile)
Health Advances (siccative)
WHS Senior Class Officers (osteocyte)
WHS Girls’ Volleyball (illimitable)
Schofield PTO — Skofield Spellarz (annulet)
Wellesley United Soccer Club (kepi)
Wellesley College (selenic)
(The final round also included Team WMS, which won a second chance raffle to continue in the competition.)
If you think those words are tough, here’s the list of Championship Round words:
And the winning word, spelled by Health Advances, Threnody
Tonight, victory belonged to Health Advances team members Laura Eisenmann, Melissa Lowder, and Josh Meidenbauer. Tomorrow morning, they get to strut into work, hoisting their trophy high in a blaze of Spelling Bee glory. Somebody at that company had better take them to lunch at Dumpling Daughter. Hard work should count for at least that much.
Congratulations to the winning team and also, as always, to all the hardworking volunteers, especially co-chairs Stacy Braatz and Judy Zimmerman, who made the event run smoothly. You guys know how to put on a fun event, how to move it along at a brisk pace, and how to make some serious money for Wellesley public schools while you’re at it.