Campus & Community

How do you spell “worthwhile”?

Spelling Bee 2016 PBSC team
A tradition: The PBSC team returned to compete at this year’s Literacy Coalition’s Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee. From left: Cheryl Zimmerman, Allen Webber and Dr. Becky Mercer

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. The game in this case was the 25th Annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee sponsored by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. Each year, local businesses and institutions send teams to compete and raise money for the vital cause of ensuring that every child and adult in Palm Beach County can read. At last evening’s event, Palm Beach State College’s team may not have won, but their efforts made a difference in advancing literacy.

In fact, a PBSC team has participated in the Great Grown-up Spelling Bee for over 15 years, winning three times and placing several times. This year’s PBSC team of Dr. Becky Mercer, Allen Webber and Cheryl Zimmerman competed against 14 teams, but misspelled “prorogue,” one of several words concerning elections and government, in an early round. (To Zimmerman’s credit, she did suggest the correct spelling, but was outvoted by her teammates.) The same word category felled three other teams (“bifurcate,” demagogue” and “gerontocracy”). Additional teams were eliminated in later rounds on words including “ductile,” “macron,” “stipple,” “cringle,” “foggara,” “iridescent” and “leguminous.” The night ended with Greenberg Traurig, P.A. and The Palm Beach Post tied for first place.

Literacy Coalition Spelling Bee 2016
The Great Grown-up Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, was held last evening at the Harriet Himmel Theater in downtown West Palm Beach.

“I can’t thank Allen, Cheryl and Becky enough for their willingness to serve as team members,” said Robert Gingras, Ph.D., a PBSC associate dean who also serves as vice president of the Literacy Coalition’s board of directors and co-chaired this year’s event. “It’s always thrilling to win, but participating and supporting the efforts of the Literacy Coalition are the real reasons for attending the Bee. They are all such fine representatives for the College.”

Mercer is director of Biotechnology programs and STEM education and based on the Palm Beach Gardens campus. Webber is a music professor and Zimmerman a learning specialist, both at the Lake Worth campus. Associate Dean Robert Van Der Velde, J.D., and Professor Lourdes Marx were judges, assisting word master (word pronouncer) Dr. William Mech of Florida Atlantic University.

The same PBSC team placed second last year, so it was a letdown. But there’s always next year, and always people whose lives will be improved through literacy.

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