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Longview Rotary Club three-peats as Bee for Literacy champs

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
June 6, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The 21st annual Bee for Literacy turned into a battle of the sexes, as the three male members of the Longview Rotary Club bested the three female members of the Zonta Club of Longview in the final round.

The yearly corporate spelling bee, which benefits the East Texas Literacy Council, attracted 16 teams this year; along with the usual cheering squads and themed-teams.

About 350 people attended the Wednesday lunchtime event at Pine Tree Junior High School.

The Longview Rotary Club achieved its victory after the Zonta Club's team stumbled on the world "glossolalia" (speaking in tongues). Members of the Rotary team successfully spelled that word and the next one, "sesquicentennial" (a 150th anniversary, as anyone who lived in Texas during 1986 should remember) to take the title for the third year in a row.

The winning team was comprised of Gene McWhorter, Gordon Northcutt and Ric Brack.

"We did a lot of studying, but we were also lucky," Northcutt said. "This event is a lot of fun, and we always look forward to it."

While the Zonta Club is a women-only organization, the Longview Rotary Club does have female members - it just didn't have any of them on this year's spelling team. The Zonta team was comprised of Zan Brown, Ellen Gordon and Heather Scott.

This year's spirit stick award went to the city of Longview, whose employees showed lots of pep in cheering on team members Laura Hill, David Hamblin and Justin Cure.

Not all Rotary Club teams did so well in the spelling bee. The Longview Greggton Rotary Club won the pink flamingo for being the first team out.

Some teams dressed up in matching outfits, including the Zonta Club's bee-looking black and yellow shirts. Others took a less organized approach.

Brad Echols, a member of the council's board, once again served as master of ceremonies, complete with a stockpile of corny jokes.

Jennifer Slade, executive director of the East Texas Literacy Council, said the bee achieved its primary goal: raising money and awareness for literacy projects in the community.

"It was spectacular, as usual," Slade said. "The community always turns out in force to support this event."



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