3rd annual spelling bee for adults promises a challenge

Groton - The words are so tough in this spelling bee even the emcee can't pronounce them, so the high school has a computer do it.

The contest is the Marine Science Magnet High School PTO third annual Adult Spelling Bee, scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 4. Registration starts at 6 p.m.

Last year, a group of three science teachers won with the word "tchotchke" (pronounced "CHACH-kee"), a Yiddish word meaning trinket. Principal Nicholas Spera said he couldn't tell what the word was by looking at it.

"That's why I judge," he joked.

Spera, Groton City Mayor Marian Galbraith and Michael Alfultis, campus director of the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus, will serve as judges.

Contestants compete in teams of three and have 30 seconds to write the word on a white board. There's a separate round for parents, students, teachers and the community, then the top two teams from each round compete in the final. Last year, 26 teams competed and science teachers Phoebe Rockholz, Samantha Cregger and Kathleen Hinkel won.

The school hopes to see even more competitors this year. The event is free and open to the public but also offers businesses and groups the chance to sponsor teams and support the PTO.

PTO Member Lori Thompson said she signed up for the spelling bee the first year it was held and was in the first group to be kicked out.

She doesn't remember the word that cause her team to lose.

"I thought I was a great speller. But the words are challenging," said Thompson, who works for the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. "It's a lot of fun, but you're nervous when you're up there."

d.straszheim@theday.com

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