The following is a republished press release from a community organization or member and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at

[do_widget id= text-55 ]

IPEI’s 18th Annual Adult Spelling Bee on Sunday, March 6 is a fun fundraiser for IPEI’s grants for teachers. The family-friendly community event at the Ithaca High School Wellness Center Gym is free and open to the public. Before the spelling commences at 2:00 p.m., the doors will open at 1:30 p.m. for the silent auction, Remembox photo booth for spellers and spectators, complimentary refreshments, quilt prize drawing, and play area for children accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

In addition to the 96 spellers on 32 teams competing in four preliminary rounds, there are others involved in the event itself including Jean McPheeters, host, and Geoff Dunn, word pronouncer, and Deborah O’Connor, time-keeper will be assisted by honorary “bee-keepers” Mayor Svante Myrick, Chemung Canal’s Mike Wayne, Cornell’s Joel Malina, and surprise guests. Eight judges are needed with the new competition format: Matt Braun, Vicki Brous, Jerry Dietz, Ralph Jones, Deborah Lynn, Paulette Manos, Deb Mohlenhoff and Chris Sanchirico.

IPEI Board member Jennifer Biloski chairs the committee that is also assisted by volunteers from Alphi Phi Omega service fraternity, Code Red Robotics, Ithaca High’s Key Club, and DeWitt Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society.  This year’s bee fairies are Charlotte Hay and Anna Danks Burke.

One team from each of four rounds advances to the championship round that follows. Teams show their spirit with unique team names and zany costumes as they battle it out for the Fuzzy Bee trophy. Most teams have sponsors covering the team entry fee, yet all can also be supported by additional individuals, businesses or community groups. There will be prizes for the team that raises the most funds.

Visit for easy online way to support the Bee in general or specific spellers or teams. If you don’t see them listed, enter their name after entering payment information.

IPEI’s Spelling Bee website includes details of other ways to participate as a spectator; “Spectate & More” section includes the silent auction items donated by local businesses, organizations, and individuals.

Bids will be taken through the first three rounds for a wide range of valuable experiences and items ranging from stays in local inns, spa treatments, fitness activities, bee-themed items, restaurant meals and more.  Featured is a dinner for six prepared by Gola Osteria’s Sam Epps, Ithaca High School graduate, with Mayor Myrick as special guest.

Tickets for a quilt prize drawing can be purchased on March 6, or in advance at Cat’s Pajamas; the IPEI office; or at the March 2 Combined Band Concert with musicians from Ithaca High, Boynton Middle School and DeWitt Middle School. The quilt has been created by retired teachers and friends of IPEI (Peggy Hill, Connie Patterson, Judy Steele and Marcie Wyant).

Thanks to the event sponsors, all proceeds go directly toward funding Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) grants. The Blue Ribbon Champion Sponsor is Chemung Canal Trust Company, and the Red Ribbon Finalist Sponsor is Wells Fargo Financial Advisors. Sciarabba Walker and Cayuga Radio Group are Gold Ribbon Sponsors. Calf Audio and Westhill Graphics partner with the Bee each year providing their special services.  WRED, Ithaca High’s digital media studio, will be recording all the sights and sounds.

“IPEI’s grants programs help Ithaca City School District teachers engage students and enhance education, sparking student learning by connecting the schools with our diverse and talented community,” expressed Christine Sanchirico, IPEI’s executive director.

Contact the Spelling Bee Committee, to get involved or with questions. The chair is Jennifer Biloski,, 607-227-1905.

IPEI is a community-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that develops supportive community and private sector relationships with the ICSD.  Founded in 1996, IPEI is committed to connecting school and community through collaboration, engagement, gifts and grants.  For more information, see or contact 256-IPEI (4734).

[do_widget id= text-55 ]

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.