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Schools Foundation Holding Adult Spelling Bee

Nonprofit education group plans event to raise funds for classroom innovation.

The Farmington Public Schools Foundation has brought innovation to Farmington classrooms since its inception in 1995, and so an innovative fundraiser seemed only natural. While seeking to avoid yet another dinner dance, foundation members decided to try something fun and engaging – an adult spelling bee, planned for May 11.

“We were looking for something new that was casual and fun,” said Jane Moreno, one of the bee organizers. “Somebody had heard that [adult spelling bees] had been done successfully and in doing research, we found a number of towns in Connecticut are doing it on an annual basis and they’ve turned into huge events.”

The spelling bee, played in teams, gives adults the chance to show off their spelling skills — without the on-the-spot pressure of traditional bees.

“We’re all a bunch of chickens. We’ll do it to our kids but not ourselves. The way the whole thing is going to run is pretty different than what the kids endure,” Moreno joked.

The foundation is hoping to sign up 20 teams of three people each, at a cost of $200 per team. Each team will face two others as they compete to spell the most words correctly. Teammates will work together, discussing how to spell a word, then presenting a final answer to a panel of judges by writing it on a white board.

Teams continue to compete in swarms (groups of three teams) until all but one are eliminated.

The foundation has recruited some well-known faces to participate. Mary Grace Reed, Principal Alicia Bowman and Children’s Librarian Vida Lashgari will serve as judges. owner Gino Moncado will be the evening’s master of ceremonies and Doug Clark, interim pastor of will serve as time keeper.

Those not brave enough to participate, for $25 a ticket may come watch the bee, enjoy dinner from Flaggstead Smokehouse and bid in a silent auction. A variety of local businesses are adding items to the auction and the foundation is still accepting donations.

The Farmington Public Schools Foundation will use the funds to award grants to Farmington teachers who apply with an idea to bring “innovation to education.”

“The foundation awards grants to teachers who have an idea for something new or different for their classroom or a study and need funding to be able to try it out,” Moreno explained. “One example was a teacher at the high school wanted to offer a new class related to digital photography and we funded the digital cameras. It has to be part of a bigger picture, have the support of the principal, fall within acceptable guidelines so it can be incorporated into the curriculum on a larger scale.”

Since 1995, FPSF has donated about $88,000 to various programs throughout the district, including the initial seed money for the Farmington High School Robotics program, last year’s school science fair at Noah Wallace, the West Woods Upper Elementary School’s News Crew and funds for the Irving A Robbins Engineering Club to design and construct electrically powered go-carts.

Through fundraising efforts, FPSF has donated approximately $88,000 for various educational projects including Farmington High School’s Probing Science Program, enhancement of West Woods Elementary School’s News Crew, Noah Wallace Elementary School’s Science Fair, and seed money for Farmington High School’s Robotics Program.  

The spelling bee will be Friday, May 11 from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Sarah Porter Memorial. To purchase tickets, register a team or get involved, visit the FPSF website.

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