The “Angelic Beeings” and “BEEdlam Bees” came away the dual spelling victors at the annual “GRATE” Altus Spelling Bee, held March 29 at the WOSC Band Hall. The elimination between the two teams was a battle back and forth. Finally when both teams misspelled the word “bibliopegy”, the officials declared a tie for the championship spellers.
The champion team members of “Angelic Beeings” from the First Christian Church were Judy Colston, George Dosher, and Heather Erickson. Ruth and Phil Carson and Brenda Risner were the team sponsors. Rev. David Player, Sid Willis and Jim Parrish on the “BEEdlam Bees” represented Altus Mini Storage. Joe and Kathy Stafford of The Sign Farm in Elmer provided specialized license tags stating the honor for the winners.
Sixteen teams gave their best shot at spelling the words pronounced by Col. William Spangenthal, Commander for the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base. The pronouncer was dressed in a customized t-shirt labeled “Jenius”, emphasizing the importance of spelling.
The traveling plaque for the best spelling team from the Altus Air Force Base will have an engraved plate designating the honor going to “Spelchekers To” for the 97th Mission Support Group with team members Col. Mike Greiner, Lt. Col. Jeff Nelson, and Lt. Josh Cousins. Their sponsors were the Nub and Cyndie Smith Agency, LLC. After being engraved, the plaque will be displayed at the base library.
Some teams also wore costumes focused on various themes. The “Angelic Beeings” won the Best Costume Award as they wore choir robes and golden halos. The second place costume honor was given to the Altus Siding & Windows’ team “Bee All You Can Bee” with members Steve Jensen and Stephanie Jensen, sponsored by Cris and Steve Jensen. Third place costume honor was awarded to Jami Fincham, Rhea Wolbrink, and Shaquana Cooper, dubbed “Queen Bees” from the Department of Human Services/Child Social Services, and the team was sponsored by Erin and Ryan Howard. The “Spelchekers To” won 4th place award in the costume category.
The “Two Bees & a C” with Kiona Fowler, Mark Dabelstein, and Rallene May from the Altus Intermediate School won the Best Name accolades. Their team was sponsored The Sign Farm of Elmer. Another team called “We Bee Back” with Tony and Debbie Valerio was awarded second place name winner. This team was sponsored the Valerio family. The third place name winners were the “SpellGoodurz”, sponsored by the Altus AFB Spouses’ Club and included SMSgt Janet Dean-Gall, MSgt Jaime Garcia, and SSgt Jerome Duhn from the 97th Communication Squadron Group.
Winners for the best costume and best name were determined by State Senator Mike Schulz and State Representative Charles Ortega.
GPLC President Jacquelyn Parrish opened the spelling bee with a memorial tribute to charter GPLC board member Gail Miller. She acknowledged Mr. Miller’s legacy to literacy and library services. She presented roses to his daughters Katherine Hale of Altus and Jeanine Berrong of Weatherford and presented to them a plaque with his photo to be displayed at the Altus Public Library. The roses were donated by Alex Rodriquez of Black Orchid.
Altus insurance agent and attorney David Braddock provided humor and steered contestants through the tense moments. “It was fun as usual,” summarized Braddock, “and the fundraiser tallied money for the worthwhile service to literacy.”
The spelling contest judges were James Patterson, Doctor of Physical Therapy from Valir Health, and Joan Wilcoxen, Executive Director for the Altus Armed Forces, YMCA.
Eddie Wilcoxen, former Oklahoma Poet Laureate, served as the contest timer and presented the door prizes.
The other teams participating were Beady Bees, Bee Commanders, The ‘Bee’sons, Super Bees, The Thunder Bees, Treasure Bees, Western Warriors, and Worker Bees. All the team members received honey from the Broadway United Supermarket.
Other team sponsors or organizations represented that have not been mentioned included Bill and Shirley Olson, First Methodist Church Women/Country Kitchen, Aldonian Club, Fellowship Class of the First United Methodist Church, Chapter CM of PEO, Tom and Ellen Yates, Jackson County Treasurer’s Office, Bob and Renee Howard, WOSC Foundation, ASCOG/Altus Workforce Center, and AMSCO Steel.
In addition to the individuals, groups and businesses that sponsored teams in support of this literacy fundraiser, other financial contributions came from Advantage Realty of Altus, Ag Preference, Altus Firefighters Local 2749, Altus Kiwanis, Altus Lions Club, Mary Ann Applebee, Kristen Balko, Donna (Hinton) Belli, Rick and Becky Cheaney, Pat Colville, Chapter GU of Duke PEO, Larry and Sharon Duffy, Steve and Jozette Esposito, Nancy Evans, First National Bank, William and Kiona Fowler, Steve Francis, David and Susan Grimes, Katherine Hale, Ruth Kizziar, Jackson County Home & Community Education, Jackson County Retired Educators, NBC Oklahoma, Jim and Jacquelyn Parrish, Mel and Jean Rader, Donna Revilla, Shamrock Bank, Stockmans Bank, VFW Youth Fund-Post 4876, Mary Beth Williams, Woodmen of the World, Lodge 111, and Harold and Margaret Worrell.
A total of $4,430 was collected by the end of March for the bee, in addition to a $1,000 Tinker Federal Credit Union Partnership Grant through the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition for this literacy fundraiser to benefit the programs and services of the literacy council.
Appreciation is also expressed to those making additional in-kind contributions or supplies which included Western Oklahoma State College, AAFB Public Affairs, Altus Printing, Altus Car Wash, Altus Times, Robert Preston of Aquathin, Jeanine Berrong, Cable One, Carl & Carmens, Karen Coggeshall, Ruth Ann Cross, Leslie Gelders of Edmond, Katherine Hale, KEYB Radio, KWHW Radio, Lowell-Times Funeral Home, Velda Mustard, Jim and Jacquelyn Parrish, Donna Smith, Southern Prairie Library System, Stockmans Bank, Tamarack Road Church of Christ, and The Enterprise.