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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Adult spelling bee to raise funds for children in need


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SPRING HILL - The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc. will find out who is "Smarter than a Preschooler" when it hosts its first adults only spelling bee fundraiser on Aug. 1.

Teams of four spellers will compete during three rounds of increasingly difficult vocabulary words beginning at the elementary level, then high school, and ending with college, according to Interim Communications Specialist Sherri Singleton.

And for every local dollar raised at the event, the State of Florida draws down $18.35 from the federal government to fund the School Readiness program, which provides subsidized child care for income-eligible families who are working or are in school.

"('Smarter than a Preschooler') comes from what we represent, and a lot of children are from the 3-5 age range in the School Readiness program," Singleton said. "And how many times do we get outsmarted by a preschooler?"

More than 9,000 children in their formative years are helped by the Pasco-Hernando non-profit to enter and succeed in school through enrollment in early learning programs, and all proceeds from next week's spelling bee will to go toward that end.

"It's $18 for each child to go to school every day, so every dollar we make goes back to the children, and that's ultimately what we're going for," Singleton said. "It's the first year we are making an attempt at putting together the spelling bee, and so far it's going pretty successfully."

Already the organization has 10 teams for a total of 40 competitors, Singleton said, and they're anticipating 50 or more audience members based on who competitors are bringing along.

"The teams are also going to have costumes with their team names, and they'll have balloons that we'll pop if they get (the spelling) wrong," she said. "We'll also have a live auction going on."

The winning team will receive the "Ultimate Speller Trophy" from retired Hernando County Sheriff's Office Lt. Col. Royce Decker, who will be emceeing for the event, and will also award the most spirited team with the "Spirit Award."

"It's a lot of fun, it's going to be very competitive, but friendly-competitive between the teams," Singleton said. "A lot of them know each other from working together, so it's going to be very fresh. We've never done this in the area before, and we're excited to see what it brings."

The event will be held Thursday, Aug. 1 at the Suncoast Dance Party Center at 13383 County Line Road in Spring Hill.

General admission is $25, which includes one barbecue dinner and two beverage tickets.

The cost to sponsor a team of four spellers is $250 and includes four team t-shirts, four barbecue dinners and two beverage tickets per teammate.

To sponsor a team or purchase tickets, go to or contact Coalition Board Members Ann-Gayl Ellis at or Bonnie Clark at

For more information about the event, visit or call (727) 233-8291.

(352) 544-5271

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