Havelock Elementary School teacher Amber Mirise figured she had an advantage even though it was her first time ever competing in the Adult Spelling Bee.
"Bring it on," Mirise said. "I won the spelling bee in third grade with the word triskaidekaphobia. I figure that if I was 8 or 9 years old when I did that, then we’ve got this in the bag."
Mirise was one of 68 spellers on 17 teams that participated in the annual fundraiser sponsored by the Havelock Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.
The participants strained their brains to spell words like antepenultimate, hypnopompic and plenipotentiary, all of which had to be enunciated expertly by master of ceremonies Tom Braaten.
"It’s just a lot of fun," said Suzanne Averitt, a curriculum coach at Roger Bell Elementary. "It’s exciting that all of the businesses get together and help the schools raise money. It’s fun to spend time with your co-workers when you’re relaxing and enjoying each other instead of always worrying about your job and what’s going on with students, and I think it’s just a really good way to support the community and the schools."
Maegan Barry, a physical therapist, participated on the Peak Performance Team called the Therabees.
"I think it’s an awesome idea for a fundraiser because it’s simple and easy and all you have to do is spell words and raise money for the schools," she said.
Most had a hard time straining to get the correct spellings.
"It’s at times pretty difficult, especially with the words that they come up with in this particular event, but it’s all for a good charity and fun," said Allan Quinn of the Early College East Flower STEMs.
Mary Ann Moore, who teaches English at Havelock High and competed for the Ram Bees, tells her kids all the time that she doesn’t know all the words in the dictionary.
"On some of them, it’s not really a surprise because on some of those science words that have the weird spellings are really hard," Moore said.
Wendy Mayton, a pre-kindergarten and special needs teacher for Graham A. Barden Elementary’s Word Nerds, said the event is her favorite,
"It is so much fun," she said. "It is one of my favorite things about Havelock. I’m actually moving at the end of the year and I’m so sad. This is one of the things I’m going to miss the most.
"It’s such a raucous good time. Everybody has so much fun. It’s neat that people can have so much fun with a spelling bee. It’s great that it’s a team effort because we can all put our heads together and sometimes you have to go with your gut," Mayton said.
She said missing a word was just embarrassing.
"It’s so disappointing and I never want to look my principal in the eye," Mayton said. "She’s always on the sidelines and I always want to just shield my face."
Megan McGarvey, who works for sponsor CarolinaEast Medical Center, said she doesn’t have enough spelling ability to compete and instead handed out Bee Bucks, which can be purchased by teams to stay in the game if they miss words.
"Thank goodness for spell check," McGarvey said. "I think this is a wonderful event. I am so excited about being here. This is my first year. CarolinaEast is pleased to sponsor it. I think it’s unique. It benefits the school system. It benefits the chamber, which means it benefits the community."
Stephanie Duncan, executive director of the chamber, said the night was about celebrating educators and raising money for schools.
"It’s a fun way to give back to the schools and show how much we appreciate them," she said.
First Carolina, Realtors, had one of the wackiest team names of the bunch this year, and a hard one to spell too
"Our former broker in charge actually did a little bit of searching on the Internet and actually built the word," said team member Tema Barnes. "We’re the Gerontorthographists. That stands for old people who can’t spell."
The winning team was The Honky-Tonk Donkeys from Craven Community College’s Havelock campus. Team members included Hank Hingley, Kyle Warner, Jessica Saxon and Quincy Lieske. The winning word was demiurge, a magistrate in some ancient Greek states, according to the dictionary.
"We were like hopping out of our seats. We haven’t won in six or seven years," said Lieske.
The team chose Roger Bell Elementary to receive an extra $100 of the proceeds from the event.