The bee is back.
A fun-filled community event that has become a local tradition, the 15th Annual Andover Community Spelling Bee will take place on Friday, March 22 at Wood Hill Middle School. Sponsored by the Andover Fund for Education (AFE), the bee pits teams of four adults against one another to find the best spelling team in town.
Teams donate money to the AFE to participate, and the money is used to pay for unusual ideas by Andover teachers that could not be paid for in the traditional school budget.
The event draws a large and lively crowd of students, parents, teachers and school administrators, town officials, and community groups. This year Selectman Alex Vispoli will return to serve as MC, and judges will include Selectman Brian Major, Townsman editor Neil Fater, and Eileen Woods, former principal of South Elementary School, according to the AFE.
Though some very good spelling often takes place, the AFE bee emphasizes entertainment, and the atmosphere is casual and family-friendly. It is designed to be a team sport rather than an individual competition: there is no solo spelling, so team spellers “sink or swim” together.
Most of the teams arrive in costume, as do many of the audience members who show up to cheer on their favorite team. Team supporters are invited to strut their stuff in the freewheeling Spirit Parade that takes place just before the final round, and a Spirit Award is presented to the school team supported by the most enthusiastic fans. Judges also award a trophy for Most Creative Team Costume. At the end of the evening, prizes are given to the winning team of spellers.
AFE welcomes team participation from all area schools and community groups, as well as generous donations from sponsors,” according to the organization. “Many participants consider the bee an annual rite of spring, and AFE invites new groups to become a part of the tradition.”