After more than an hour of people failing to spell impossibly long and complicated words, the Literacy Council of Tyler’s 28th annual Corporate Spelling Bee came down to a five-letter word.
The final teams were the Tyler Morning Telegraph/tylerpaper.com and Ingersoll Rand/Trane.
The teams took turns spelling words incorrectly for several minutes when Ingersoll missed a word and the newspaper team of Brandon Ogden and Erin Mansfield spelled it correctly. That meant if the newspaper team spelled the next word correctly, it would win.
“Breve,” called out Mike Starr, an attorney who served as the official pronouncer.
He gave the definition of the word as a written or printed mark indicating a short or unstressed vowel.
Ogden, a sports writer for the company that puts out news on print and digital platforms, then walked to the front of the stage at Green Acres Baptist Church’s CrossWalk Conference Center.
With only a hint of doubt, he spoke into the microphone: “b-r-e-v-e.”
The competition on Tuesday produced a winner but was really about having fun and raising money for Literacy Council of Tyler. In the days before the bee, Literacy Council of Tyler Executive Director Nancy Crawford, who served as the master of ceremonies in a bumblebee outfit, said the event would raise at least $60,000.
Crawford told the large, often boisterous crowd that the council uses the money to provide literacy, GED and college preparation courses free to those who need them.
Before the competition began, the council played a video in which Maggie Hill told of using the council’s services first to earn her GED and then much later in life to prepare for classes at Tyler Junior College.
In the video, Hill said she became sick while in high school and ended up not earning a diploma. She said her mother encouraged her to take the GED course at LCOT.
She said she again found herself in need of LCOT’s services after she had two children and divorced.
“I was at a standstill,” she said of her life at the time.”I was lost.”
She took LCOT’s college preparation course and said it helped give her life direction.
Hill earned a degree from TJC and is now a student at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Crawford said LCOT often changes the lives of its students.
This year, 12 organizations provided two-person teams to compete in the bee.
The theme was games, and among the games represented by the teams were Twister, Monopoly, Candy Land and Scrabble. Many competitors and members of the crowd came dressed as characters from these and other games.
Those in attendance cheered wildly when a representative of their team spelled a word correctly and were generous with applause when someone failed to spell a word right.
With each round, the words became more difficult. Among the words this year were avocet, oneiric and banausic.
The Ingersoll Rand/Trane supporters were selected as having the best costumes and the spirit award went to Prothro Welhelmi & Co.
The bee’s title sponsors were Michelle and B. Tim Brookshire and the Tyler Morning Telegraph.