Adult spellers can 'cheat' to win at PEP bee

One team of community leaders will prove to the letter that they are the best spellers in Aiken County on Oct. 20 at the first 2017 Adult Spelling Bee.

The spellers will come prepared to compete, but “cheating” will be allowed and encouraged – all to support public education.

Sponsored by the Public Education Partners, the event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the City of Aiken Municipal Building at 214 Park Ave. S.W. Eric Brinkley of Aiken Laundromats and a graduate of Aiken County Public Schools and Jason Holt, principal of Paul Knox Middle School in North Augusta, will be the emcees.

“It’s a light-hearted, fun and entertaining event but also a community-building event to support public education,” said Melissa Viola, executive director of Public Education Partners. “The funds raised will be used for professional development for Aiken County Public Schools teachers and educational opportunities for students through support from the PEP imitative.”

Ten three-member teams will compete. Team members are accepting donations now not only to raise money for PEP but also to allow them to buy cheats during the spelling bee.

The five cheats are as follows:

• One Letter Clue – A team can ask the judge which letter comes next in the word and will have an additional 30 seconds to spell the word.

• Dictionary Peek – A team will be granted an additional 20 seconds to spell the word. The team can use the dictionary for 15 to 30 seconds.

• Ask a Teacher – The team will be granted an additional 30 seconds to ask a teacher expert the spelling of a word but still must spell the word to pass the round.

• Second Try – If a team misspells a word, this cheat will allow an additional 30 seconds to spell it again.

• Skip the Round – The team can choose to skip a round at any time.

To make a donation and help a team buy a cheat, visit The deadline to make a donation is Oct. 15.

“They want to help their team win, so team members are asking the community to donate a cheat,” Viola said. “Each team wants to raise money to get as many cheats as possible to last as long as possible in the competition. It’s a neat way to get the community involved.”

The 10 teams are City of Aiken, Floyd and Green, Security Federal Bank, Aiken Regional Medical Centers, Aiken Saddlery, Over Oxford, Southside Pediatrics of Aiken, BAE Systems, Bridgestone and H.G. Reynolds Company.

The winning team will receive a trophy and the title of 2017 Adult Spelling Bee champion.

PEP is dedicated to the advancement of equality and excellence in education for all students in Aiken County, Viola said. Serving as a liaison between the private sector and the public school system, PEP provides avenues for business, industry and community involvement in public education, she said.

“PEP is dedicated to involving the community, business and industry leaders in public education,” Viola said. “The 2017 Adult Spelling Bee is a way to bring the private sector together with the public school sector for a night of fun but at the same time raising money for PEP and its initiatives.”

Tickets are $25 and are available online at, at Floyd and Green at 515 Silver Bluff Road and at the door. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served, and a cash bar will be available.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.

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