GNAT buzzes to triumph

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MANCHESTER — It was much more than a simple spelling bee.

Each round was fiercely contested, with some teams spelling with meritorious ease while others left the stage doleful and flummoxed. The competitors were sagacious, their countenances displaying equanimity as they delved into their capacious memories in search of answers.

Those were just a sampling of the words contestants were asked to spell during the Vermont Reading Partners second annual Adult Community Spelling Bee, which took place in the Manchester Elementary Middle School gymnasium Wednesday. The event is the organization's only fundraiser of the year, and all proceeds go toward funding educational programs throughout the region.

Teams of three were given a short amount of time, from 20 to 40 seconds depending on the difficulty of the words, to confer among themselves before presenting their answer to judges. The judges were Michael Murno of the Vermont Reading Partners, Allyson Hoffman of Molly Stark Elementary School, Jim Comar of Bank of Bennington, and myself. The event was emceed by Seth Bongartz, executive director of Hildene.

In total, 20 teams competed in five rounds, with the winners from each round advancing to the semifinals and the best two teams advancing to the final. Each team

represented a local school, business, or community organization. The teams were escorted to the stage by members of Cub Scout Pack 333 of Manchester.

After some tough competition, the final five teams were Team Hildene, The GNAT-astics from Greater Northshire Access Television, The Dorset Dark Horses from the Dorset Village Library, The Busy Bees from Decorative Interiors, and the MEMS Stellar Spellers, one of two teams competing from the school. The Busy Bees faced some tough competition from the Memory Makers, made up of staff from the Manchester Town Hall, but eventually took the round after correctly spelling obstreperous.

In the first round of the semifinals, Hildene was the first to be eliminated after they added an extra 'h' to ricochet. The Dorset Dark Horses and GNAT each correctly spelled Palmyra, Rhesus, supernumerary, soliloquy, spectrophotometry, zephyr, and sarcophagus, before Dorset was eliminated on rapprochement. In the second round of the finals, both the Busy Bees and the MEMS team spelled diphtheria incorrectly, then got equanimity and juggernaut correct, before MEMS was eliminated on Lilliputian.

The Busy Bees faced off against GNAT in the final round, and both teams were determined to take home the trophies. Anterior, eczema, adjudication, dichotomy, and escutcheon were all spelled correctly by both sides, but the GNAT team, made up of volunteer producers Jeff Lineback and Carly Reilly and executive director Tammie Reilly, prevailed in the end by correctly spelling manumission — the act of freeing slaves.

The other teams competing, who were unable to make it out of the first round, were the staff of the Vermont Country Store; the Three Spellerteers, made up of the Bone Builders of Manchester Town Hall; the Roaring Lions of the Manchester Lions Club; staff of Molly Stark Elementary School; staff of Orvis; Team MEMS, last year's champions; The Book Jackets of the Northshire Bookstore; Ted Hopkins and Sons; The Renegades of the Manchester Community Library; the Burr and Burton Academy Class of 2021; Staff from the Maple Street School; The Cowardly Lions of the Manchester Lions Club; the NorShaft Lions; and the BBA Bulldogs, made up of staff and students from BBA.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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