During the eighth annual Whitfield Education Foundation Celebrity Spelling Bee, Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Vice President of Economic Development Stephanie Scearce placed ninth out of 19 participants, which included community members from the greater Dalton area.
The fundraising event looked different than it did last year. Audience members in the Dalton Convention Center spread out on the convention floor to maintain social distancing, and contestants on stage kept 6 feet apart during the event. The group of educators, health care officials and business leaders met for dinner at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, before the competition got underway.
After surviving five rounds, Scearce was eliminated along with a handful of others during round six. The word she misspelled, disturbances, ended her bid for the title of champion speller of Dalton. However, the GNTC vice president said she enjoyed the lighthearted and fun competition.
"The first word they asked me to spell, antennas, was the one I thought would eliminate me," said Scearce. "I was happy to represent GNTC as a celebrity speller while also raising money for such a great cause."
Smitty Barnett, executive director of the Whitfield Education Foundation, said the goal of the night was to have fun while raising money for local educators. The spelling bee raises money for the foundation, which then contributes the funds to Whitfield County Schools to use for students, educators and staff.
"Last year, we were able to raise $77,000 and award over 50 grants," said Joseph Farmer, president of the Whitfield Education Foundation. "We are so grateful to our celebrity spellers for participating in this event."
The mission of the foundation is to increase student-learning opportunities, reward outstanding achievements and honor retirees. The foundation is a responsive, community-based, nonprofit organization established in 1990.
The foundation strives to support the Whitfield County school system's vision and educational mission. Innovative Teaching Grants are a major focus of the foundation. Several fundraising events are held each year to help fund these grants.