Kerry Cantwlll and Paul Mills win the 31st Annual Brunswick County Literacy Council Adult Spelling Bee.
The Brunswick Community College team of Kerry Cantwell and Paul Mills won the 31st Annual Brunswick County Literacy Council Adult Spelling Bee October 19. Cantwell and Mills won when they correctly spelled floriferous, which means flower bearing. It was Cantwell’s first appearance in the bee, but Mills has represented BCC twice before. “The third time is a charm,” he says.
The William M. Shook, Jr. Memorial Trophy will be displayed in Building B at BCC, where both Cantwell, chair of college transitions, and Mills, interim chair of social and behavioral sciences, have offices and teach classes.
Cantwell says she was spelling champ when she was in second grade in Fairfax, Virginia, but lost the school-wide event.
“I wanted to be in a spelling bee again,” she says. “I wanted vindication for my second grade loss. I wanted vengeance. I wanted retribution, and I got it!”
The two say they read at an early age and continue to be voracious readers. Cantwell says her parents didn’t read to her: “They made me read to them.” She read food labels, signs and any other words she saw. “When I asked what some words meant, I had to look the words up,” she says.
Mills says he read all the billboards and signs along highways and roads, and credits writing a lot of essays to his ability to spell.
Both say they’re grateful they didn’t have to spell bourgeoisie, the social class concerned with property values, and they admit they guessed at ecphonesis, the use of an exclamatory
phrase such as “look out!”
“We made up the spelling of that word,” Cantwell says. “We didn’t know what it meant.”
Kathy Gillcrist and Tony Iannotta, who represented Seaside United Methodist Church in Sunset Beach, were runners-up.
“We never expected to come in second place,” Gillcrist says. She explains she and Iannotta are neighbors and both are former school teachers. She won a spelling contest when she was in the third grade and says both she and Iannotta are avid readers. They wore black costumes and little devil ears, and Iannotta suggested they call themselves the Sin-ergy team.
The best cheering section went to Word Witches Karen Prescott and Caron Meyers, whose sponsor was Brick Landing Women’s Club. “We probably had 10 people cheering for us,” Prescott writes in an email. She attributes their win to the president of the women’s club who made a poster and dressed, along with her husband, in appropriate Halloween attire. The team received coffee mugs as their prize.
The Brick Landing Book Club sponsored Kim Curry and Susan Dana Kennedy, who were the Spell Casters at the bee and won the prize for best costumes.
“Susan and I thought about how we could represent that name and decided to go in a positive, light and fun way with our costumes,” Curry writes in an email. The team won a half dozen bagels and stemless wine glasses.
Jeff Mount, long-time Literacy Council advocate, was master of ceremonies and introduced students Irina Zaslavskaya and Sandra McNeil, who are taking lessons from the council. Zaslavskaya migrated from the Ukraine and is learning to read English, while McNeil said she is grateful to now be able to read to her granddaughter.
Others who assisted at the bee were pronouncer and expediter Stephen Burns, timekeeper Gene Steadman and judges Lt. Israel West from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Kristin Dowdy from State Farm Insurance and Lowell Puckett from Makai Brewery.
About 100 people gathered at Virginia Williamson Events Center in the Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College in Bolivia. The proceeds from the event, including the silent auction, provide funds for the Literacy Council’s programs.