“Your word is ‘across,'” a judge said at a spelling bee hosted by the Having Ambition ‘N’ Devotion for Service organization.
Sophomore psychology major Safiya Castel misspelled “across,” and before the judges could yell “security,” junior sociology and African-American studies major Candace Moses buzzed on stage in a bee costume.
“If [contenders] spell a word wrong, I sting them,” Moses said, as she humorously escorted a contestant off the stage with a bee dance.
“Across” was the first misspelled word at the spelling bee.
HANDS actively strives to make Philadelphia a better place by providing community service.
“Week after week, we dedicate service to really be a part of something of change,” Moses said.
Recent activities have included cleaning schools, streets and parks, taking children to the movies and roller skating and playing bingo with senior citizens.
“We have a relationship with Norris Homes’ children and the seniors from Grand as Parents,” senior Wallace said. “HANDS really does great events, and our events always carry a buzz afterwards.”
The group organized the spelling bee to raise money, which it plans to spend for the people it serves.
Participants could compete in the contest for $5.
HANDS wanted to involve the nearly 30 students in the audience. For $2, students could be entertained with the spelling bee, eat food and drink and win prizes. Every person in the audience was given an index card with a number on it, which pictured different colored bees. After every 30 words, audience members would be called depending on the color and number on their cards. If an audience member spelled a given word correctly, HANDS rewarded him or her with a $10 gift card to 7-Eleven.
A panel of two judges, including Dean of Students Ainsley Carry and Maureen Fisher, program coordinator for Student Activities, moderated the event.
“It’s a worthwhile effort. They genuinely want to help the community,” Carry said.
Unlike the typical spelling bee, HANDS’ contest allowed spellers two lifelines, including “Phone Your Mama,” which allowed a troubled speller to call home. The other permitted spellers to ask an audience member for help.
Sophomore English major Geneve Dupuy joined HANDS after seeing its Facebook group page.
“It’s not your cliché type of community service,” she said. “We really help out, and it’s fun doing it.”
Junior psychology major Jamie Leather participated in the spelling bee.
“I’m a dork, and I like words,” she said.
Senior public relations major Grace Obando’s first word to spell was “different,” the same word she misspelled in her fifth grade spelling bee. Not only did Obando move on to the next round, she won the contest and the grand prize, a Nitendo Wii, after correctly spelling ‘nuisance.’
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.