When you volunteer for a cause in which you believe wholeheartedly, you’re willing to do just about anything.
So perhaps that explains why I embarrassed myself standing outside the Village Market during Wilton’s Halloween Walk dressed as a giant bee. It’s the least I could do for the Wilton Education Foundation, an organization for which I am one of the board members.
The Wilton Education Foundation is dedicated to enriching the learning experience for Wilton students by providing ongoing professional development for teachers, the latest in innovative and interactive teaching tools, support for music and the arts, and “beyond the classroom” experiences to provide our children with the confidence and skills to succeed in college and beyond.
I guess you could say I’m ‘sweet’ on WEF. In fact, I’d ‘bee’ lying if I said supporting the mission of Wilton Schools wasn’t very important to me.
Hopefully my puns have tipped you off to the WEF event I was promoting by donning the wings, yellow-and-black stripes and antenna.
This Friday night, November 16, WEF will be holding its first Spelling Bee Fundraiser at Wilton High School’s Clune Center.
Event chair Kimber Felton hopes the evening will actually be a ‘fun-raiser.’ “It’s going to bee-dazzle everybody!” she laughed, as she talked about how easy it was to come up with puns while planning the Bee with her team. “Bee-dazzle, bee there or bee square, creating a swarm, don’t be a buzz-killer, to bee or not to bee, bee-autiful, Bar-bee the WEF scarecrow… I call everyone ‘honey’ now.”
The Bee will pit teams of three people (or “hives,”) competing to out-spell one another in preliminary rounds until they are eliminated for making mistakes. If they’re unsure of how to spell something, they can ask for help from the audience, but first have to buy an “EpiPen” (get it?) at the cost of $10, all in the name of raising even more money during the evening. Winners of each preliminary round will move on until there is only one team left standing at the end of the final championship round—a team who will have to spell something so incredibly difficult to win the honor of bragging rights and what Felton calls a “really, really tacky trophy.”
“The pressure that is on during a true spelling bee—it’s the complete opposite of what we want, which is fun,” Felton said. “We are not overly serious, and it will be great for kids to see their parents and other adults from the community up on stage, having fun. It’s good for kids to see their teachers and other people as human beings who can laugh at themselves.”
Teams were recruited from the Wilton community. Each hive will sport hilarious team names, and hopefully wear ridiculous costumes. One member will be the lead ‘Queen’ or ‘Killer Bee’ and the other two teammates will be ‘drones’ who consult and agree on the spelling of a word.
“It’s a great way to get the community together—not just kids, not just parents, but the whole community. We opened it up to teams from seniors in high school to senior citizens. It’s a good way to get everyone in the community talking about WEF—we’ll be having a good night and all the proceeds go to the schools. It’s very inclusive.”
As of today, there are 14 different teams, including The Book Bees, made up of librarians from Wilton Library’s children’s room; the “Legislative Bees”, a team comprised of politicians Gail Lavielle, Toni Boucher and Tom O’Dea; “The Cider Mill Swarm,” which will boast teachers Kevin Meehan, Ellen Tucker and Julie Wojciechowski; and teams from Middlebrook, the Parent Advisory Board, Acoustic Wilton, Wilton Playshop, Wilton Fire Department, and several teams fielded by parents.
The night will be emceed by Middlebrook dean of students Jory Higgins and lton resident John Wilson. “They have sort of a Felix and Oscar-like rapport. They’ve both lived in Wilton a long time and they play off of one another really well,” Felton added.
The judges will be Wilton Bulletin editor Jeanette Ross; Bob Carney from Golf Digest; and Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist Matt Davies.
Felton said one of the best words for the night will be madcap. “This is definitely going to be campy. The ‘Queen Bees’ from Miller Driscoll (teachers Robyn Reeves, Pam Sullivan and Karen Brooks) are probably wearing prom dresses. We’re strongly encouraging people to have fun with it. We’re hoping even audience members will consider dressing up and find some antennae or wings to wear too.”
Wilton students have already had a chance to be involved in the preparation of the Bee.
“We wanted to have the kids be part of this. They can suggest hard-to-spell words for us to use either by submitting them in the big yellow and black bee-decorated drop boxes at each of the schools’ libraries, or they can email them to WiltonSpellingBee@gmail.com. If their word is chosen and they stump the contestants they have an opportunity to win a gift certificate from Wilton Pizza, Bistro 7 and Toozi Patzi,” Felton explained.
In addition to the support the Wilton Pizza group has given, WEF has gotten support from other corporate and commercial partners in the community. Louis-Dreyfus is sponsoring one spelling round and Marly’s Bistro has helped with preparation as well. The Wilton Bulletin is the event’s media sponsor, which has helped significantly with promoting the night.
The Spelling Bee will also showcase some of the technology at use in the schools. Teams will write their spelling guesses an using Apple iPad Learning Lab and a SMART Board—the very technology WEF has deployed into Wilton schools with annual grants.
Tickets are on sale now through the WEF website and cost $10 each for students and senior, $15 each for adults. Tickets will also be available at the door on the night of the Spelling Bee, for an additional $5 each.
The night promises to ‘bee’ an entertaining and educational experience for spectators as well as participants. The best part about it? I won’t be dressing up as the bee mascot as I’ve already fulfilled my promote-through-humiliation duty.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread a little buzz now, right?