The buzz about the Bee

Fuchsia, desiccate, and vermilion were among the tricky words that stumped our contenders Friday night during the 8th Annual NHR Spelling Bee. Yet the competition came down to another unusual word, numnah, which launched students from Hopkins School to victory in the final round. 

Altogether, nearly 375 people attended the Bee at the Yale School of Management, and dozens of incredible local businesses and individuals united to support the event through generous contributions, sponsorships, and choosing to compete as spellers.

“The Spelling Bee is our organization’s interpretation of a gala event: a little fancy, a lot of fun, and all about literacy,” said our executive director, Kirsten Levinsohn. 

This year’s event was co-hosted by WTNH reporters Keith Kountz and Ann Nyberg. Radio host Joe Ugly served as Word Master, and our judges were Ray Andrewsen (general manager, WQUN), Stacy Spell (project manager, Project Longevity), and state Sen. Gary Winfield.

We’re proud to say that WTNH and the Arts Paper (Arts Council of Greater New Haven) came to the Bee, too. Click below to find their excellent coverage: 

Of course, the great triumph of our Bee—beyond the fun, the wonderful costumes, and the fancy medals—is the money raised by a dedicated community to help young people learn to read. 

Working together, we raised $34,000 before and during the Spelling Bee! All proceeds will directly support our after-school reading programs (which impact the lives of hundreds of students each week), and our unique community resource, the Bristol Street Book Bank. 

Below, we’ve shared a gallery of photographs from the Bee. See if you can find yourself or your friends!

The Bee is our most significant fundraiser of  the year, and plays a special role in supporting our work—the need for which is great and growing. Here’s how Lucy Gellman put it Tuesday in her Arts Paper story:

“While New Haven Reads tutors 550 kids a week, an all-time high of 234 more remain on the waitlist. Friday, a few attendees gleefully raised their hands and signed up to tutor before the end of the evening.”

When community members join us each year for the NHR Spelling Bee, they help us meet that need.

“New Haven Reads is so amazingly successful because all kinds of people from all over the community come together for a common cause: to support our city’s youngest readers,” Kirsten said Friday in her Spelling Bee speech. “Let’s continue to work together to help all of our children learn to read, so that their dreams can come true as well.”

“Let’s continue to work together to help all of our children learn to read, so that their dreams can come true as well.”

Thank you! We’re already looking forward to next year’s Spelling Bee, and hope you are, too. It’s never too early to start planning your name, your costume, and your game plan to win the trophy.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll consider a different kind of contribution:  signing up to volunteer for as little as one hour a week reading with students after school.