The Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties has opened registration for its annual Spelling Bee fundraiser that will be held on Saturday, July 23 at Texarkana College’s Truman Arnold Center. While the Spelling Bee is a long-held Texarkana tradition, two exciting new changes are planned this year: the addition of kids’ divisions and a new traveling trophy named in memory of Aaron Brand, long-time Spelling Bee participant and local reporter who passed away last year.
There are two new divisions for children this year: 3rd through 6th grades and 7th through 10th grades. High school students in 11th and 12th grade will compete with the adults. Executive Director Jenny Walker said she is excited to be able to add the youth divisions.
“Adding kids to the mix has been something I have wanted for a while,” Walker said. “Last year was not the right time since we were just opening things back up, and we wanted to be cautious about large crowds. This year we feel a lot better about having an audience and welcoming children to the event.”
Another change will be the presentation of the new traveling trophy named in honor of Aaron Brand, late Texarkana Gazette reporter who was a regular Spelling Bee participant and strong supporter of the Literacy Council.
“When I heard of Aaron’s passing, I — like everyone — was heartbroken,” Walker said. “The board of directors and I wanted to do something that could honor his memory, and we thought that naming our new trophy for him would be a fitting tribute for one of the Spelling Bee’s fiercest competitors.”
In addition to participating in the Spelling Bee or cheering on a team, guests may enjoy bidding in the silent auction. Tickets come in two options — general admission to all contests and general admission plus dinner catered by Texas Roadhouse. Also, Spelling Bee teams can participate in fun contests for creative costumes, spirited audience support, and there is even a prize for the team that is eliminated first. Local celebrity and comedian Derrick Keener will serve as the host of the contest.
The Spelling Bee serves as the Literacy Council’s signature fundraising event and provides much of the income needed to cover the organization’s operating expenses. Walker says a successful Spelling Bee pays for essential things that grants usually will not like utilities, rent, and salaries.
“Grantmakers love to fund projects,” Walker said. “Certainly, we are so thankful for those grants, but we can’t run those projects without a staff and a place with electricity and water to welcome participants. Even expenses like toilet paper add up to considerable amounts as more students enroll in our programs. The money we earn through fundraisers and donations keeps us going, and it is crucial that events like our Spelling Bee are successful so that we can cover those general operations costs.”
Walker said they hope to have at least 10 teams participate in each division, and registration — along with ticket information — can be found on the Literacy Council’s website www.literacytxk.org. Sponsorships are also available. For more information, contact Jenny Walker at 903-255-7733 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.