Bee all that you can bee

From apotropaic (to ward off evil) to zyzzyva (a tropical weevil), the Altrusa/Literacy Council Spelling Bee takes its 18th annual opportunity to stump the local chumps on Thursday, May 29, hoping to best last year’s fundraising record of $34,000.

The gymkhana (contest to test skills) benefits the Literacy Council of Buncombe County, which currently serves some 250 county residents, with 80 on the waiting list. Students, mostly adults, are paired with volunteer tutors who help them learn to read or write well enough to perform day-to-day activities more effectively, or to become better-functioning employees. An estimated 40,000 county residents are eligible for the Council’s volunteer-tutor services—some needing basic education, others needing to learn English as a second language.

And it will be the English language that’s on trial when community teams compete for the honor of being declared the spellingest fools around. The hymenopterans (bees) will come from such intellectual strongholds as Asheville City Schools, Beaver Dam Run Book Club, A-B Tech, Smith Barney, The Givens Estates, the Asheville Citizen-Times and Mountain Xpress. (Note: The obscure words listed above are from the study sheets provided for the match.)

The big spell will be cast at 7 p.m. in A-B Tech’s Ferguson Auditorium, co-hosted by Altrusa International of Asheville and the Literacy Council; admission is $5. Donations may also be mailed directly to the Literacy Council, 86 Victoria Road, Building B, Asheville, NC, 28801. Don’t leave them impecunious (lacking money)!

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