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Accept no ‘succedaneum’

Mary Lyon spelling bee a success

  • “The Holy Hulas” dance before spelling bee judges and the audience after winning first-place for costumes at the Mary Lyon Foundation Community Spelling Bee on Tuesday<br/>(Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

    “The Holy Hulas” dance before spelling bee judges and the audience after winning first-place for costumes at the Mary Lyon Foundation Community Spelling Bee on Tuesday
    (Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

  • Elvis is in the building: Mary Lyon Executive Director Susan Samoriski with the costumed school Superintendent Michael Buoniconti.<br/>(Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

    Elvis is in the building: Mary Lyon Executive Director Susan Samoriski with the costumed school Superintendent Michael Buoniconti.
    (Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

  • “The Holy Hulas” dance before spelling bee judges and the audience after winning first-place for costumes at the Mary Lyon Foundation Community Spelling Bee on Tuesday<br/>(Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)
  • Elvis is in the building: Mary Lyon Executive Director Susan Samoriski with the costumed school Superintendent Michael Buoniconti.<br/>(Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

BUCKLAND — Call it a “Killer Bee.”

With words to spell like “ampullaceous,” “psammophytic” and “yttrium,” Tuesday night’s annual Mary Lyon Foundation Community Spelling Bee had to rise to new heights to winnow down 30 teams of excellent spellers and get a winner.

After more than three hours, Mohawk Trail Concerts’ “The Three Bees” team triumphed with “succedaneum,” a word that means “substitute,” or “one that succeeds to replace another.”

“We just got lucky,” said team member John Clark, as he and his teammates, Cornelia Reid and Amy Metzler-Clough, left the Mohawk Trail Regional School stage.

“That was from our emergency list of words,” said Susan Samoriski, executive director of the Mary Lyon Foundation. She said the big words were brought out to narrow the field, before the spelling teams plowed through the entire list of contest words. She noted that some of the teams, who return each year, take the contest “very seriously.”

But how serious can you be, dressed in a hula skirt, bee costume or in a rock-star jumpsuit? School Superintendent Michael Buoniconti came to the spelling bee as Elvis Presley, and did his best “Thank you very much” impression of The King.

“The Holy Hulas” of the Mary Lyon Church — Judy Willis, Cindy Stetson and Anita Upright — did a little hula dance of celebration after they were awarded the best-costume prize for the evening.

Each team had 30 seconds to spell the given word out on a white board, then hold their boards up for the judges and the audience to see. Six teams competed in five rounds and then the finalists did the champion round.

The event annually raises about $7,000 for educational programs for West County schools and for a student assistance fund.

“None of us are lexicographers,” said Spell Master Art Schwenger. “Every team that comes up here is already a winner, having raised funds for the schools and for entertaining us with their costumes.”

Besides the entry fees for the spelling teams, local businesses donated about $3,000 worth of goods and services to be raffled at the event.

The following teams won their respective spelling bee rounds:

∎ “Doctors of Orthografy”: Michael Hoberman, Richard Warner and Whip Withington.

∎  The Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters Spelling Beans: Curtis Rich, Kathy Lytle and David Henry.

∎ The Wing Nuts from the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage: Francesca Passiglia, Peter Dudley and Marilyn McArthur.

∎ The Three Bees from Mohawk Trail Concerts.

∎ Zoar Syzygy: Miles Warner, Keith Reineman and Adrianna Asaza.

Oh, and “Ampullaceous” describes a bladder-shaped object. “Psammophytic” is an adjective for a plant that grows in sandy soil, or in a desert. “Yttrium” is an element in the Periodic Table of Elements.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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