Last year, members of the Bethlehem Town Board, here as “Town Bord Spelerz,” lent a helping hand at BOU’s spelling bee event. Submitted photo
BETHLEHEM — Bethlehem Opportunities Unlimited will raise all of the organization’s funds at a spelling bee — their fourth such annual event and its largest fund raiser of the year.
The event sees teams of adults, including teachers from each of the district’s schools, district bus drivers, all Bethlehem Town Board members, the Bethlehem Police Officers Union and groups from local businesses, book clubs, service organizations and more work as teams to spell given words.
“The elementary kid seeing their teachers compete, especially, is a big draw,” said Cindy Ferrari, co-president of BOU with Jayne Deane-White. As most teams wear coordinated shirts or costume, the spelling bee can be entertaining. Ferrari recalled beekeepers, queen bees and witches as a few memorable team’s costumes.
“Whatever we raise that year, that’s what we have to give out across that year,” said Ferrari. Funds raised will be granted out to events like Senior Celebration and 5th Grade Survivor Day, and used for BOU’s own events, which are geared toward promoting prevention of student drug and alcohol use.
With 45 seconds on a timer called “the bee keeper” teams collaborate to come up with the correct spelling of given words. No phones and no cheating, unless teams want a fast ticket out.
This year around 20 teams will compete. Additional teams of three to five people aged 13 and older may enter online by Friday, Feb. 19 to participate in the Thursday, Feb. 25, fourth annual BOU Spelling Bee, held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Bethlehem Central High School cafeteria (snow date Feb. 27).
Attendance is free, so funds are raised from the $120 team entry fee and businesses sponsors, who may sponsor unique words related to their business for $120. This also places them on the BOU Facebook as one of the event sponsors.
As well, a new feature this year, a $10 lifeline to teams from audience members allows teams to poll the audience, use a dictionary or make a call. “We tried to add some fun and make it more like game show,” said Ferrari.
Another big draw of the event, multiple raffle baskets offering private yoga lessons, gift cards to 16 Handles and local restaurants, and other themed collections.
“There really is something for everyone,” said Deane-White. “We get a great response from the community, and it’s a win-win for them and us.”
Food and refreshments will also be available, as well as a kid’s craft table, manned by volunteers from the Bethlehem Central High School Key Club, although the entire event is more adult-oriented than kid-oriented, said Deane-White.
Last year the group raised $3,600 in total, and this year they’re looking to surpass that with a fund goal of $5,000. “It’s pretty labor intensive but ends up raising a lot of money,” said Ferrari.
BOU is a non-profit organization that sponsors community events to “promote prevention education and safe, healthy activities for the youth in our community.” Their recently held and widely attended event “Talking with Your Teen: An Open Conversation About Substance Use,” facilitated open conversations between adults and teens about drug use, and demonstrates their goal to prevent drug and alcohol use among students in the district.
As well, BOU provides grant funding to support Bethlehem Central School District programs like Senior Celebration, 5th Grade Survivor Day, Bethlehem Youth Court, Color Dash, BCMS Halloween Ball and more.
Grant applications are approved throughout the year, and forms are available at the BOU website.
Deadline for team entry is Feb. 19. Forms are available at bethlehmschools.org/community/bou or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and for limited sponsorship for entry costs.