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Let the countdown bee-gin

The stage is set, the audience members have taken their seats, the auditorium lights are beaming bright, and the Word Master has approached the podium. When it’s time to spell well at the 8th Annual New Haven Reads Spelling Bee, how will our teams have prepared? From the fastidious and planful to the laissez-faire and laid back, our swarms run the gamut for strategy in the final countdown to Oct. 25.

It’s only fitting in New Haven that pizza plays a part for the Linguistics Department at Yale, where faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates gathered in September for lunch—and a spelling test, to vet the Spelling Bee hopefuls. 

“This year,” says team organizer Sophie Hao, “we had our biggest tryouts yet.”

The department—which took home last year’s trophy—will send two teams to defend the title in 2019. (You can help them get there, too! They’re within $100 of their fundraising goal via GoFundMe.) “We are proud to have a longstanding tradition of supporting this wonderful charity event,” the team says. 

Other contenders have turned to Google for a leg up, like Donald Brown. He’ll compete with Team Maccabees this year and says he’ll scour databases of winning words from other Spelling Bees to familiarize himself with obscure words. 

“I went into it last year assuming that most of the words would be found in common vocabulary,” Donald says. “But some words were rather specialized, leading me to believe that the words are being culled from lists that stump contestants.” 

(We can’t give away our secrets, Donald.)

2018 Spelling Bee contestants

Unlike her Maccabees teammate Donald, Abby Roth has eschewed a specific strategy in favor of showing up and trying her best. Her advice for first-time competitors? “Definitely wear costumes!”

Neither is Cathy Solomon especially worriedalthough she’s combed through past Bee words on the New Haven Reads website to prepare. Her cool demeanor can be chalked up to her wonderful philosophy: “My words of wisdom are, relax and just enjoy yourself! Even if you don’t win, it’s a great program to support, and it’s fun to watch the other teams!”

We couldn’t agree more. Want to see these year’s teams compete on Oct. 25? Everyone and anyone is welcome to attend the 8th Annual Spelling Bee at the Yale School of Management, with a suggested donation of $10. Mark your calendars, and let the countdown bee-gin!