The Okanagan College Eggheads were declared sole champions of the 12th annual Literacy Society of North Okanagan’s 12th annual Adult Spelling Bee Wednesday morning at the Prestige Vernon Lodge Hotel. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Vernon adult spelling bee stumps Morning Star Word Nerds

Valiant, 12th annual effort to be champs falls short at Literacy Society of North Okanagan Bee

It’s a phrase that the Morning Star Word Nerds repeated a lot during the warm-up round, the three main rounds and the tiebreaker round at the 12th annual Literacy Society of North Okanagan’s immensely popular 12th annual Adult Spelling Bee early Wednesday morning at the Prestige Vernon Lodge Hotel.

“That looks right.”

Sure, the words the Morning Star team of seven wrote on their pieces of scrap paper looked like the word Beekeeper Betty Selin of Sun-FM announced to the sold-out event. But, as it turned out, five of them didn’t look right enough.

The Adult Spelling Bee is one of the main fundraisers yearly for the Literacy Society. It’s a fun event where teams of eight gather for practise, come up with creative team names like Word Nerds, Highway To Spell, Vowel Movements, City of Vernon, and wear costumes (we had newspaper hats this year). Then, teams get 45 high-pressure, sweat-inducing seconds to correctly spell a word read by Selin. The team with the most words spelled correctly wins.

In the past 11 Bees, only once have the Queen Bees – a bunch of retired women – and the Okanagan College Eggheads been defeated. Once. Those teams have dominated the event. They even split the championship in 2018.

The Morning Star Word Nerds have placed second four times. This year, we were done in the first round.

Playing a man/woman short, none of the team (current employees, team captain Jennifer Smith, Brieanna Charlebois, Roger Knox and Glenn Mitchell, former entertainment editors Kristin Froneman and Parker Crook, and ringer Paul Philps of RBC) are green-thumbers, as we misspelled nasturtium, a type of plant (Froneman was close; she had nasturcium. “That looks right,” said Crook, the first of at least three occasions he used the phrase).

Knowing that the Eggheads and Queen Bees are usually perfect, one slip-up means you’re likely done, as emphasized by Mitchell when he asked, “How many rounds are there?”

I don’t think the seven of us knew what nasturtium was, so it’s hard to spell something you’ve never heard of. Case in point, tiebreaker slip-up synecdoche (a figure of speech). We weren’t close. Nothing we wrote on that one looked right. More on the tiebreaker in a moment.

We slipped up four other times in the three regulation rounds: words we thought looked right, but did not, included daiquiri (we’re beer/wine aficionados, conjuring up a word from Bees past), peignoir (our alleged French connection, Charlebois, had never heard of the French word), acquiesce and lascivious (which Mitchell had right, and I had daiquiri correct but the team thought otherwise).

The words in the practise round gave us hope, as Capt. Smith pronounced, “These words are good this year. I know them.” They included divot, picnicking and Connecticut.

Words we got right in the Bee were consensus, meringue (though Philps announced to the table “that word wasn’t in the list of Wikipedia words I studied,” and later confessed he “spells better in his text messages”), cockatiel, chauvinism, bazaar, stalactite, baccalaureate and oscillate.

In the tiebreaker, in which every team took part, the words were opthamologist (we got that wrong too, placing and O where the A is because it looked right), synecdoche and reminisce.

The scores were tabulated and – guess what? – the Eggheads and Queen Bees were tied. Perfect scores, 18 out of 18. Actually, five teams were said to be tied with perfect scores going into the tiebreaker. Joining the Eggheads and Bees were Kal Tire Auto Correct, Plan B and the Pollinators. The latter three each got at least one wrong in the tiebreaker. The college and Queen Bees were perfect.

Minutes later, though, Queen Bee veteran Juliette Cunningham approached the podium and said the Bees had misspelled daiquiri (and were likely off to drown their sorrows with said drink). The Eggheads were named the official champions.

That looks right.

Related: Spelling Bee causing a buzz in Vernon

Related: Vernon Adult Spelling Bee Challenge is back on April 25

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The reigning co-champion Queen Bees thought they had tied the Okanagan College Eggheads as Literacy Society of the North Okanagan 12th annual Adult Spelling Bee champions for a second straight year. But the Bees confessed they had misspelled a word, missed by the judges, and finished second. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

The Morning Star Word Nerds (clockwise, from top left) Roger Knox, Paul Philps, Parker Crook, Jennifer Smith, Brieanna Charlebois, Kristin Froneman and Glenn Mitchell had some difficulties in this year’s 12th annual Literacy Society of the North Okanagan’s highly popular fundraiser. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

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