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VOL. 127 | NO. 70 | Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bee Raises Funds for Literacy

By Aisling Maki

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Literacy Mid-South Thursday, April 12, will host its 2012 Corporate Spelling Bee from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Goldsmith Room at Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road.

Teams will compete for prizes in a wacky game show format while supporting the efforts of Literacy Mid-South, a nonprofit dedicated to maximizing the impact of child and adult literacy and learning through advocacy, research, family literacy workshops and resource development.

“Typically it’s been just like a spelling bee for kids,” said Kevin Dean, executive director of Literacy Mid-South. “But this year, we’re adding new rounds to make it even more fun. We’ve added a pop culture round, so the second round is going to be people spelling words like ‘Schwarzenegger’ and ‘bootylicious.’ It’s going to be fun. And the third round will be a Family Feud-style lightning round; they’ll have to ring a bell first to spell the word.”

Local actress Ann Marie Hall, whom Dean said will play the role of a “deranged librarian,” will emcee the event.

“She’s great at improv, so we’re just letting her do her thing on stage and have some fun with it,” he said. “This year, we just want to add a little zing to it.”

Last year’s Corporate Spelling Bee winner was Adelman Law Firm PLLC. Among this year’s participants are teams from Hilton Worldwide and Regions Bank.

“We’re expecting about 10 teams this year, which is a little larger than last year,” Dean said. “And it’s not just for corporations; it’s for church groups, book clubs – we even have a group of people coming who are just friends. It’s really not just a corporate event.”

All proceeds support Literacy Mid-South’s programs, which provide basic education for about 500 low-literate adults at its Midtown office and other locations throughout the city. The organization makes use of more than 250 trained volunteers who provide private and group tutoring during morning and evening sessions.

In addition to the adult-learning program, the organization trains community volunteers for its academy tutoring project, which provides support at five Memphis charter schools.

And Literacy Mid-South’s Family Literacy Program teaches parents how to build a supportive literacy environment in the home. Working in partnership with schools, early education programs and social services agencies, Literacy Mid-South leads parent workshops at more than 40 partner sites annually.

The organization estimates between 20 and 30 percent of adults in the Memphis metropolitan area are functionally illiterate, which affects every aspect of their lives – from finding sustainable employment to taking charge of their health and the health of their families to having the capacity to assert their legal rights.

Tickets to Thursday’s Corporate Spelling Bee are $400 for a table of 10, which includes three spelling bee participants. Individual tickets are $35 and beer, wine and food included, and can be purchased at www.literacymidsouth.org.

The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. is a supporter of Literacy Mid-South.

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