SYCAMORE – After 10 hard-fought rounds, the Heal Insurance/Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra team correctly spelled irreconcilable and took home the trophy in the 14th annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee.
To support local literacy efforts, the bee is sponsored by the DeKalb-Sycamore Altrusa Foundation, the Daily Chronicle Education in Newspapers and Altrusa’s endowment fund with the DeKalb County Community Foundation. Each team is also sponsored by a different local business, and at the end of the year, the money raised is given away in the form of grants to different local entities.
“Our major emphasis as a club is that of literacy projects, and of course being able to spell correctly is part of being literate,” said Sue Lehto, co-chair of the spelling bee board and member of Altrusa. “It’s a good fit for raising funds for community literacy projects.”
With 11 teams of three members each, more than 30 people ranging from high school students to senior citizens took part.
This year’s Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra team had two veteran members, Lynn Vogl and Jerry Zar, who have been competing with the team every year since 2010. Their team won in 2010, and placed second in 2011.
First time competitor for the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra team, Christine Monteiro, credits frequent reading for her keen spelling ability.
“I also have a degree in vocal music and had to learn to sing and read in a lot of different languages,” said Monteiro. “That definitely helped.”
Held at St. Mary’s Parish Activity Center, 322 Waterman St., in Sycamore, the evening started with a practice round with words taken from The Big Read book of the month at DeKalb Public Library, “True Grit.”
This round featured words like desperadoes, harken and carpetbaggers.
Veronica LeRoy, a junior at DeKalb High School competed on the Ideal Industries/DeKalb High School Student Team II. She and her teammates learned about the bee from English teacher Christopher Lapeyre.
“Literacy is very important skill,” said LeRoy. “You need to be able to read, because it’s so difficult to communicate without it.”
In addition to the team sponsors, other local businesses contributed prizes that were raffled off throughout the evening. This included a video camera, framed art and spa packages.
“Some team sponsors have been with us since the very beginning and been contributing for 14 years,” said Lehto. “Their support is really appreciated.”