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Gazette Headliners win third Northampton spelling bee title

  • Barbara Solow, from left, James Pentland and Ellie Cook, of The Headliners team from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, celebrate winning the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Barbara Solow, from left, James Pentland and Ellie Cook, of The Headliners team from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, celebrate winning the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Eli Spector, from left, Jonah Kudler-Flam and Addison Adams make a last-second change to a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Eli Spector, from left, Jonah Kudler-Flam and Addison Adams make a last-second change to a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jordana Starr, center, reacts to misspelling a word beside teammates Elan Gregory and Paula Pannoni during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jordana Starr, center, reacts to misspelling a word beside teammates Elan Gregory and Paula Pannoni during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Barton Byg and Emily Weir, of The BEE Movies team, dressed as "zombees" to compete in the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Barton Byg and Emily Weir, of The BEE Movies team, dressed as "zombees" to compete in the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Portia Keating-Heller, from left, Kate Braidman and Santha Parke, of the Mind Your BEEs and Q's team, celebrate after winning a place in the final round during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Portia Keating-Heller, from left, Kate Braidman and Santha Parke, of the Mind Your BEEs and Q's team, celebrate after winning a place in the final round during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Sanders-James, left, and Carrie St. John, second from left, enjoy Denise Lello's costume prior to the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jennifer Sanders-James, left, and Carrie St. John, second from left, enjoy Denise Lello's costume prior to the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Talia Feldman-Schwartz, left, takes a picture of her mother, Pam Schwartz, center, during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School. Looking on is Dale Melcher, another member of the Queens are Wild team.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Talia Feldman-Schwartz, left, takes a picture of her mother, Pam Schwartz, center, during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School. Looking on is Dale Melcher, another member of the Queens are Wild team.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amy Meltzer, from left, Peter Blanchette and Alyx Akers display varied emotions after completing a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Amy Meltzer, from left, Peter Blanchette and Alyx Akers display varied emotions after completing a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ellie Shelburne, from left, Peter Shelburne and Denise Lello of the OlympBEEans team work on a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Ellie Shelburne, from left, Peter Shelburne and Denise Lello of the OlympBEEans team work on a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maxine Schmidt, from left, Loran Saito and Denny Wolfe of the Quaker Bees team hold up a word for the judges during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Maxine Schmidt, from left, Loran Saito and Denny Wolfe of the Quaker Bees team hold up a word for the judges during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Beth Sperry, from left, Judith Souweine and Binda Colebrook, of the Thera-BEES team from Cutchins Children's Clinic, react after completing a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Beth Sperry, from left, Judith Souweine and Binda Colebrook, of the Thera-BEES team from Cutchins Children's Clinic, react after completing a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Megan Rubiner Zinn, from left, Jim Cambias and Diane Kelly, of the Northampton Survival Center Hunger Buzzters, celebrate winning a place in the semifinal round during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Megan Rubiner Zinn, from left, Jim Cambias and Diane Kelly, of the Northampton Survival Center Hunger Buzzters, celebrate winning a place in the semifinal round during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Barbara Solow, from left, James Pentland and Ellie Cook, of The Headliners team from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, celebrate winning the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Eli Spector, from left, Jonah Kudler-Flam and Addison Adams make a last-second change to a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jordana Starr, center, reacts to misspelling a word beside teammates Elan Gregory and Paula Pannoni during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Barton Byg and Emily Weir, of The BEE Movies team, dressed as "zombees" to compete in the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Portia Keating-Heller, from left, Kate Braidman and Santha Parke, of the Mind Your BEEs and Q's team, celebrate after winning a place in the final round during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jennifer Sanders-James, left, and Carrie St. John, second from left, enjoy Denise Lello's costume prior to the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Talia Feldman-Schwartz, left, takes a picture of her mother, Pam Schwartz, center, during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School. Looking on is Dale Melcher, another member of the Queens are Wild team.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Amy Meltzer, from left, Peter Blanchette and Alyx Akers display varied emotions after completing a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Ellie Shelburne, from left, Peter Shelburne and Denise Lello of the OlympBEEans team work on a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Maxine Schmidt, from left, Loran Saito and Denny Wolfe of the Quaker Bees team hold up a word for the judges during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Beth Sperry, from left, Judith Souweine and Binda Colebrook, of the Thera-BEES team from Cutchins Children's Clinic, react after completing a word during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Megan Rubiner Zinn, from left, Jim Cambias and Diane Kelly, of the Northampton Survival Center Hunger Buzzters, celebrate winning a place in the semifinal round during the Northampton Education Foundation's 13th Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday at JFK Middle School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

They beat out team Mind Your Bees and Q’s, sponsored by the R.K. Finn Ryan Road PTO and state Rep. Peter Kocot, who left a ‘g’ out of the fourth word in the final round. The Gazette team — this year made up of night editor James Pentland, reporter Barbara Solow and retired copy editor Ellie Cook — also won in 2001 and 2006.

“We studied hard, and once we got in the finals I thought, ‘It’s possible,’ ” Cook said after the victory. “And we had fun. Usually I just get nervous.”

“There were some really good teams,” Pentland said. “It was a tough competition.”

Thirty-nine teams competed in the fundraiser, which organizers estimated raised about $14,000 through the $250 team fee, raffles and other donations. The funds will go to the NEF’s Small Grants for Teachers program to support field trips and class projects in the public schools.

Eight teams made it to the semifinals, including the BFFs, which judge and Northampton High School Vice Principal Bryan Lombardi pointed out to the audience was the first team made up of high school students to ever make it that far.

“We got a call out from the vice principal, so that’s cool,” said Jacob Levitt, 17. His teammates were Avery Mencher, 18, and Jonah Hahn, 18. They were knocked out of the semifinals by the word dirndl, a kind of dress traditionally worn in Germany.

Mind Your Bees and Q’s spelled it right, and then spelled Chihuahua correctly to win that swarm of the semifinals over Amherst Cinema’s Bee Movies.

The Headliners won the second heat, but only after a 14-word streak where they and the Northampton Survival Center Hunger Buzzters matched word for word — either both spelled a word right, or both spelled it wrong. They advanced after correctly spelling arrondissement, a word for a district in some French cities.

And while there were some very serious spellers in the field, there were a lot of even sillier costumes. The winners of the costume contest, dressed as the playing card queens, were first-time competitors Queens are Wild. The team is made up of members of a neighborhood women’s poker group, Dale Melcher, Martha Hoppin and Pam Schwartz.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Melcher said of the award. She said the group gathers once a month to play poker, but studying spellings isn’t part of the get-togethers. “We weren’t going for the spelling prize.”

Runners-up for best costumes were the OlympBeeads, with members Ellie Shelburne and Denise Lello decked out as Greek gods with long white hair and beards, and Peter Shelburne dressed as a Greek goddess. The team, sponsored by the Northampton Veterinary Clinic, has won the costume contest in past years.

The winner for most humorous went to the team that wore panda costumes complete with giant heads and paws, “because it was funny to watch them try to write,” said award presenter Alexa Jarvis, 11. The Paradise Pandas, sponsored by Paradise Copies, were Jordana Starr, Elan Gregory and Paula Ponnoni.

Organizer Jeanne “Queen Bee” Hoose said the fundraising event was a great success and will provide much-needed funds for Northampton schoolteachers.

“It went buzzingly,” she said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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