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593rd Sustainment Brigade Soldiers compete in adult spelling bee

Published: 06:01PM May 24th, 2012
593rd Spelling Bee 2

Sgt. Mark Miranda

Spc. Adrian Chambliss (left), 1st Lt. Justin Richard and Sgt. 1st Class Chris Murillo try to figure out the spelling of a word, May 11, during Sound Learning’s 19th annual Spell-E-Bration. Sgt. Mark Miranda/5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

SHELTON — A member of the Choral Drones blew a pitch pipe to set the key, and the trio of spelling bee participants sang in three-part harmony for the word pronouncer: “Centaur; C-E-N-T-A-U-R. Centaur.”

As the spelling bee judges rang a bell to indicate correct spelling, the audience in the Shelton Civic Center filled the room with applause for the team fielded by Anna’s Bay Center for Music.

Teams showed up in all manner of dress. Among them, the Garage Floor Gals were in racing pit crew attire, the Noble Mason Orchard Bees were in bumblebee costumes, and the Thriae dressed as Greek goddesses. Two teams from Joint Base Lewis-McChord were in their Army dress uniforms, adding to the festive environment.

Soldiers from the 593rd Sustainment Brigade competed against 16 teams in “Spell-E-Bration,” an adult spelling bee in Shelton, May 11. The proceeds from entry fees benefit Sound Learning, an organization dedicated to educating adult learners to better succeed and contribute to society.

Sound Learning provides classroom instruction and personalized tutoring to Mason County residents who want to improve their reading, math, writing, computer and English language skills.

Two teams, one from the 9th Finance Company and another from Headquarters, Headquarters Company, represented the brigade’s Special Troops Battalion. Sponsors paid the $500 entry fee for the teams to compete.

Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Levien, commander, 593rd STB, learned of the event through the West Olympia Rotary Club, and was able to field two teams with the amount of sponsors available.

The words used in the spelling bee were chosen from the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee list.

“We got the word list before coming to the spelling bee; it was around about 14 pages‚“ Spc. Bradley Rassier, a financial management technician said.

“The battalion knew this event was coming up, and to pick people for the team we held a spelling test for our Soldiers. The ones who did well ended up on the teams competing,” Sgt. 1st Class Chris Marillo, an HHC platoon sergeant said.

Each team was comprised of three Soldiers. Before starting to spell, the designated spellers pronounced the word, so the judges knew the speller heard the correct word. After completing the word, the spellers pronounced the word again so the judges knew the speller had finished spelling.

The HHC, 593rd Sust. Bde. team resorted to presenting the judges a good-natured bribe: an assault pack of Godiva chocolates.

As the event progressed, when the spellers misspelled a word, the pronouncer spelled it correctly, and then the team immediately dropped out of the contest.

“We (9th Finance) had the misfortune of getting eliminated on ‘candelabra,’” Rassier said.

“Talking it over up there with my team, we had four different versions of the word, so we had to pick one. I had a 25 percent,” Rassier said.

The HHC team held on until the later rounds, but was eliminated on the word “toroidal.”

“Both teams came here together, and we joked ... that at least both of us wouldn’t be coming in last place,” Spc. Adrian Chambliss, a human resources specialist, said.

“Still, it was a fun time and everyone made us feel welcome. The event was for a good cause, so I was glad to be a part of it,” Chambliss said.

“I heard a lot of great feedback, and we were really happy to see the teams here from (JBLM) participating. The audience just thought they were wonderful — they brought something special with them into this community,” Shannon Klasell, an executive director with Sound Learning said.

In the end, the Garage Floor Gals came through with the first-place win, beating the Noble Mason Orchard Bees. The Garage Floor Gals won gold medallions. Last year’s winners, the Carismatics gave up custody of the annual trophy to the Garage Floor Gals.

Klasell said the Spell-E-Bration raised more than $10,000 for Sound Learning.