January 21, 2020 —For the second time in four years Kendal at Oberlin is the top honeybee in the county. The four-person team of residents Rebecca Cardozo, Tina Graf, Robin Lauren and Nancy MacRae out-spelled 17 other teams for first place in “Spellebrate,” United Way of Greater Lorain County’s version of a spelling bee that combines fun and fundraising.
“The winning word ‘tachometer’ wasn’t very exciting. We had to spell ‘abecedarian,’ which I had just learned. To me that was the winning word,” Tina says. They also had to spell the proverbial spelling bee word “onomatopoeia.”
Kendal’s team “Wordly Wise” was formed from an informal competition held on campus May 30. To prepare for the June 20 competition the team met a couple of times over lunch to talk about strategy with coaches Katie Brown and Anne Martin, ordered T-shirts and practiced their words at home.
National Spelling Bee Experience was Helpful
“I knew that study pays off from my experience being in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1965 when I was an eighth grader at Webb School of Knoxville,” Tina says. “I went down in the third round with diadem and for years I was embarrassed that I did not know that word.”
United Way started the competition four years ago. In addition to Kendal’s two wins, the Oberlin Rotary Club and the Lorain County librarians have also won. This year in addition to a trophy, the winning organization also took home $1,000.
Teamwork Makes the Difference
“It was a pleasure really. We had four people who worked together, and we really knew what we were doing,” says Nancy MacRae, adding, “It was fun to be a celebrity for 24 hours.”
Speaking of fun, was Spellebrate more fun for Tina than the National Spelling Bee? “Oh, my goodness yes. It was a team effort, and everybody was contributing and that made the stress less,” Tina says, adding, “As older people we had an advantage, we learned how to spell the old-fashioned way.”
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