Two spelling teams were in the final round, and scores of eyes are trained upon the top two teams at the WOSC Band Room on March 9. No pressure, right?
The human thing to do under this intense scrutiny may be to feel self-conscious and even second-guess the correct spelling of the given word. At any rate, the pronouncer Col Anthony Krawietz, Commander for the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, gave the word “rasorial” to spell.
“Could we have a definition, please?”
Apparently, rasorial refers to habitually scratching the ground in search of food—used as a bird. .
“Could we have that in a sentence, please?”
The chicken is a familiar rasorial bird.
“What is the origin of the word?”
The word is a combination Latin and English.
This was how “rasorial” was eventually spelled to determine the winners. It takes a little more than “i before e except after c” to make it to the finals at the annual “Grate” Altus Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Great Plains Literacy Council.
In a hard fought contest that exceeded eleven rounds, the “Harley Bees” won the Best Spellers award. The champion team members were Renee Howard, Gabrielle Holmes, and Julie Lynch, who represented their sponsors the Fellowship Class at the First United Methodist Church. The runner-up spelling team was “The Mulligans” with Steve Jensen, Stephanie Jensen, and Lauren Kelley, who represented Altus Siding & Windows. Cris Jensen was their sponsor.
The traveling plaque for the top spelling military team will have an engraved plate designating “Spel Chekkers” for the 97th Operations Group with their team members Col Ted Detwiler, Lt Col Jeff Nelson, and Lt Col D.W. Schmidt, who were sponsored by Nub and Cyndie Smith of Smith and Smith Agency, LLC. The plaque will hang in the base library.
Some teams also wore costumes centered around various themes. The “Mulligans” team also won the Best Costume Award. The second place costume team honor was given to “Revenge of the Western Nerds” members Chelsea McMains, Brooke Britton, and Mary Ann Callaway, sponsored by the WOSC Foundation. Third place costume honor was awarded to Jim Parrish, Rev. David Player, and Sid Willis, dubbed “BEE”dlam Bees, sponsored by the Altus Mini Storage/Jim Parrish.
The “Noah Webster and His Spell-Tones” team, sponsored by and representing the 54th ARS Spouses’ Group at Altus Air Force Base won the Best Team Name accolades. The team included Sara Birnbaum, Jennifer Tyler, and Emily Kruczynski. Another team called The “Beady Bees” team was awarded second place name winner. This team was composed of Shirley Olson, Ruth Thomason, Brenda Phillips and was sponsored by Bill Olson. The third place name winners were also the “Spel Chekkers”.
Winners for the best costume and best name were determined by State Senator Mike Schulz and State Representative Charles Ortega.
Twelve teams gave their best shot at spelling over 65 words, ranging from guitar to pancreas and finally to rasorial. Since 1999, the spelling bee has featured adult contestants competing as a two- or three-person team. The other teams that participated were Aldonian Bees, Angelic “Bee”ings, New Bees, Red Shift Renegades, and Spellbound. All team members received a mug of honey candy or a jar of honey from United Supermarkets.
Former State Representative David Braddock was the master of ceremonies and steered contestants through the tense moments. “The attendance was good and included young and older people at the fun event,” summarized Braddock. “The fundraiser tallied money for the worthwhile cause of literacy.” Mr. Braddock was “busy as a bee” himself with the announcements and helping KWHW Radio Programmer and past Oklahoma Poet Laureate Eddie Wilcoxen with the door prizes and award presentations. Mr. Wilcoxen was also the timer for the time limits of the spelling of the words.
Altus High School Science teacher Mack Powers and Joan Wilcoxen, Executive Director of the Altus Armed Services, YMCA, were the spelling contest judges.
Other sponsors of more teams were Firefighters Local #2749, Aldonian Club, Ruth & Phil Carson, Brenda Risner, Ryan & Erin Howard, and Country Kitchen at First United Methodist Church.
There were several teams who represented other organizations, not mentioned previously, included Department of Human Services, Aldonian Club, Altus Fire Department, UMW Country Kitchen, and First Christian Church.
In addition to the individuals, groups, and businesses that sponsored teams in support of literacy, other financial contributions came from AMSCO Steel Co/Gary Winters, Mary Ann Appleby, Altus Lions Club, Roy & Donna (Hinton) Belli, Gloria Birdine, Rick & Becky Cheaney, Circle One United Methodist Women, Pat Colville, Larry and Sharon Duffy, Heather & Leroy Erickson, Dean and Karan Garrett, David Hale, Kathy Hale, Steve Francis, First National Bank, Jackson County Home & Community Education, Jackson County Retired Educators, Kiwanis Club, Ruth Kizziar, Charles & Julie Lynch, NBC Oklahoma, Ryan & Anduin McElroy, Gail Miller, Lynn & Ron Osterhout, Jim and Jacquelyn Parrish, Margaret & Harold Worrell, Mel and Jean Rader, Shamrock Bank, Rick & Carol Steen, Woodman of the World #111, and Tom & Ellen Yates.
Appreciation is also expressed to those making additional in-kind contributions or supplies which included Altus Printing Company, Altus Times, Robert Preston of Aquathin, Cable One, Carl & Carmen’s, Karen & Ron Coggeshall, Leslie Gelders, GPLC board and staff, Kathy Hale, KEYB Radio, KWHW Radio, Bob and Velda Mustard, Donna Smith, Southern Prairie Library System and staff, North Main Subway, Barbara Privett, The Market Place, Western Oklahoma State College, Eddie & Joan Wilcoxen, and Tamarack Road Church of Christ.
Proceeds from the bee benefit the programs and services of the Great Plains Literacy Council. “It was a very successful bee and we raised over $4,000,” said Ryan Howard, President of the literacy council. He said that organizers were pleased and excited about all the fun the participants and audience had at the spelling bee.