Spell-A-Bee offered some food for thought.


Byline: Jan Gottesman

CLINTON - It was a sarcophagus that got to them in the end.

Fitting for a Halloween-week event, the word was the difference between winning and losing during last Thursday's Spell-A-Bee at Clinton High School.

The event, which involved 16 teams of adults, was a fundraiser for the Enrichment Fund of the Clinton Public Schools' Scholarship and Enrichment Foundation.

The team of Beeuty, Beelzebub and the Valtriloquist (Christine Graves Zentgraf, Johanna Orne and Val Niser, all staff members at Clinton Middle School) was the only squad that successfully spelled "sarcophagus," earning victory in the event.

The members said they were confident from the beginning.

"When in doubt, we knew Johanna had the answer," Zentgraf said. Zentgraf and Niser are teachers, Orne is a paraprofessional.

The team dedicated the win to its cheerleader, Clinton Middle School Principal Michael Vetros.

But things did not look good for the women at the start of the night.

Spell Master Gary Hutner, publisher of The Item, read the first word in the first round, which was a freebie, meaning no team would be eliminated if they could not spell it, all four teams were able to spell "accuracy." The same for "calendar." But when the word was "bookkeeper," all four teams made mistakes. So the first round teams had to wait for the other three rounds, before getting a do-over.

This time, three of the teams spelled "conscientious" wrong, sending Beeuty, Beelzebub and the Valtriloquist to the finals.

The other round one teams were LCU Triple Threat (Lois Moribito, Debbie Greenfield and Stephanie Rivera), CSBeez (Bill Keyles, Nancy Park and Mish Georgeson) and The Know-Buddies (Jean Norton), Carolyn Casavecchia and Sheila King).

Round two brought four more teams to the stage, tackling words like "lexicology," "feign" and "kleptomania."

With the word "rottweiler," the round went to Spell Bound, a team that included Geri Sargent, Cathy Duvarney and Ruth Wagner, though there was concern that the team was getting extra help from the Lions' Club mascot, who was on the stage, keeping a lion's eye on each word.

Other round two teams included We "Bee" Calc (Christine Cordio, Holly Bullard and Ben Roberts), The Live Wires (Diane McNamara, Jenna McNamara and Laura Sullivan) and The Jack O'Lanterns (Ed Devault, Jen Jordan and Kelly Michaud).The third round was short and not-so-sweet for three of the teams. While three of the teams got the "free" word correct (cemetery)...

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