Spelling bee raises money for scholarships

Islanders are scrambling to bring Vashon’s sixth annual spelling bee to the stage this weekend, when participants will display their intellectual mettle in what one organizer called Vashon’s delightful version of a “nerd fest.”

The spelling bee — called Spell It! — has become something of a tradition on the Island, said Barbara Gustafson, the event’s organizer for the fourth consecutive year.

The event raises money for the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation, which routinely provides more than 100 students graduating from the Vashon School District with varying levels of support for their post-high school pursuits.

But the event has also become a social gathering and another well-known, quirky Island event, she noted.

Contestants not only try their hand at spelling, but many also don whimsical outfits, vying for top honors in the costume category as well. The audience also gets to participate during the event, when the emcees — Jeanne Dougherty and Jeff Hoyt — toss words their way for an all-audience spelling contest.

“At first, when we started it, we really wanted to raise money. Now, we just want to put on a good show,” Gustafson said.

The event is shaping up, with some of the teams from years past — Volunteers for Decency and Queen Bees, for instance — making another appearance. Three high school teams have also signed up, delighting Gustafson.

At the same time, she added, she’s worried — as she has been in previous years — that the event won’t have enough teams. As of Monday, only eight had signed up. Last year, 17 teams participated.

“We’re accepting teams right up to the very last moment,” she said.

The event now allows for teams of varying size — from one person waging battle alone to three people on a side together. It costs $50 per person to be on a team, except for students, who can participate for free.

Tickets, meanwhile, are $15 for an adult and $10 for students and seniors.

“It’s just sort of a joyful evening,” Gustafson said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll have some teams come out of the woodwork and that we’ll have a good show.”


Spell It! will be held 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Vashon High School theater.



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