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North spells its way to win after graphorrhea

Tamara Collins gets a congratulatory hug from Rick Freeman, principal of North Lincoln High School. The school’s team won Tuesday night’s adult spelling bee.
Jenny Walling / Lincoln Times-News

A team from North Lincoln High School spelled its way to success Tuesday night at the Lincolnton/Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Spelling Bee.
Two hours of relentless spelling and word buying boiled down to four teams.
One word, which described the night, eliminated three of the teams, handing the title to North Lincolnton — graphorrhea, the writing of a long succession of meaningless and unconnected words.
Tension filled the air as the four remaining teams scribbled their answers.
“I had my eyes covered and when I heard three balloons pop, I knew we won,” said Tamara Collins, a North Lincoln teacher.
More than 30 teams competed in the fund-raiser that raised $10,850 for the chamber scholarship and operating costs.
Ken Kindley, chamber president, hoped the event would raise at least $9,000.
“To exceed that amount is wonderful. Everybody did a great job competing,” he said.
Each team paid $100 to participate. The competition included three rounds, increasing in difficulty. Teams that missed words could buy their way back in for $25.
The North Lincoln team — comprised of Collins, Mark Ewing, Teresa Atchley and Pat Abernethy — was prepared to buy back eight words. They only needed seven.
“I’m just as proud as I could be,” said Rick Freeman, principal at North Lincoln.
Freeman sat in the stands during the spelling bee, cheering his team on with each correctly spelled word.
More than 50 words were called out. Definitions and origins were given to help spellers.
Student volunteers stood at each table, asking definitions and helping teams buy back words.
Team members celebrated by clapping, cheering and giving high-fives with each victorious spelling.
But when words were misspelled and the money ran out, student helpers popped a balloon signifying the team’s demise.
Some teams collectively spelled words, while others went with the divide and conquer approach — each writing down their answer then comparing.The team from North Lincoln went with the latter and took home the trophy. by Diane Turbyfill

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