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Mohawk hosting spelling bee Thursday

Annual event to host at least 25 adult teams from throughout Franklin County

BUCKLAND — The Community Spelling Bee is a “hilariously educational” event, says Sue Samoriski, that fills the Mohawk Trail Regional School auditorium with spectators and raises about $7,000 a year for educational programs in Western Franklin County.

This year’s 7th annual Mary Lyon Foundation Community Spelling Bee takes place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Mohawk, pitting at least 25 teams of adult spellers from throughout Franklin County — most of whom come in costume.

Those who have attended in the past know that, in the silence, as competing teams ponder words such as “blatherskite” and “foudroyant,” you can hear the scratching of pencils on paper as the audience tries spelling along with contestants.

“We have a word committee that reads all year and looks for words that are appropriate,” says Sue Samoriski, executive director of the Mary Lyon Foundation. She said the group meets before the event to compile its list. “Each round starts off with words that are pretty easy, and it escalates.”

The (Franklin Regional Council of Governments) FRCOG Frogs will be back with a second team, the new FRCOG COGitators. Other teams include the Baystate Franklin’s Franklin Word Docs, the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage’s Wing Nuts, the Shepherds’ Crooks (a team from Mary Lyon Church), the Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters Spelling Beans, and Ballet Renverse’s Ballet Spellbinders, among others.

The teams of three are sponsored for $200 or by raffle donations.

Audience members buy $1 raffle tickets, bid for auction prizes donated by local artists and businesses and can register for a free door prize. Refreshments are free.

Most of the money raised is used for mini-grants, for “replicable, innovative educational projects,” said Samoriski. She said local school staff and even homeschool educators from the Mohawk district towns can apply for the grants on the Mary Lyon Foundation Website.

Some of the money raised also goes to the Student Assistance Fund, which helps students to meet emergency needs. Last year, the assistance fund helped many students whose homes were damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

“We have received so many requests for food for a homeless student, warm clothes for children — even sneakers for a student to participate in gym class,” said Samoriski.

“Queen bee sponsor” Greenfield Savings Bank is underwriting this year’s community spelling bee. A district wide spelling bee for elementary school children is sponsored by Mary Lyon every spring.

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