'Full of giggles and laughter': Adult Spelling Bee set for March 10 at the Strand

Mar. 5—Adult Spelling Bee Contestants Chiefs, sponsored by Crane Elder Scott Hamilton Jesse Evans Bill Westenberger Law Group, sponsored by Northside Lindsay Gardner Katie Leonard Megan Grout Junior League of Cobb-Marietta, sponsored by Credit Union of Georgia Nadia Williams April Phillips Ashley Farris Cobb County District Attorney's Office, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Flynn Broady Kayla Willis Jared Horowitz Kiwanis, sponsored by O'Dell, O'Neal, Hungerford & Blanchard Raymond Goslow Michael Miller Andy Tatnall Cobb Young Professionals, sponsored by Croy Engineering Colt Chambers Luci Hogue Katy Ruth Camp Education Team, sponsored by Judge Greg Poole Lucia Poole Ashlyn Campbell TJ Hartnett Leadership Cobb '23, sponsored by the Doss Firm Matt Giddens Joy Doss Bobby Johnson Cobb County Library, sponsored by Life University Terri Tresp Sarah Berry Vidhya Jagannathan Strand Ole Opry, sponsored by S.A. White Oil Company Barry Lancaster Camilla Sanders David Ellis Justice League, sponsored by Judge Jason D. Marbutt Judge Jason D. Marbutt Judge Angela Z. Brown Judge Henry R. Thompson

Grown-up spellers should be buzzing: The 6th annual Adult Spelling Bee, a fundraiser for the Cobb branch of Communities in Schools, will take place Friday at the Strand Theatre.

Last year's event raised over $60,000 for Communities in Schools of Marietta and Cobb, a school dropout prevention and intervention organization that offers resources to students throughout both districts to fund such programs as career fairs and book distributions. This year's goal is $75,000, according to Jennifer Lynch, who leads the group's fundraising efforts.

Natalie Rutledge, executive director of Communities in Schools of Cobb and Marietta, said the bee came about seven years ago as the organization brainstormed about "a unique fundraising event," and Lynch proposed the idea of a spelling bee for adults.

Lynch said her "crazy idea" has been a big hit ever since.

"It's kind of a fun thing where adults are thrown into doing things that we expect kids to do every day," Lynch said.

"It is a really super creative nonprofit event that is a lot of fun because one of the biggest fears somebody probably has is to misspell a word," Rutledge said.

That fear leads to a lot of laughs, as do other components of the spelling bee.

"They are themed teams of three that come and spell. They spell collaboratively as a group, and then someone goes forth to the microphone to spell," Rutledge said.

John Loud, former chair of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, is a sort of "hype man" for the bee, helping to sell tickets and raise money both before and during the event.

In the past, he has sported a gold suit to the show, and he tends to spend his time in the crowd, raising money in real time as the show progresses on stage.

He fondly recalled the time that Cobb school board member David Chastain was asked to spell "daiquiri."

In another memory from a past event, he recounted raising money to keep a team of former Braves players in the game (as Loud explained, the audience can pay for a team that has been eliminated to get another shot at staying alive).

He said the fee to keep a team in it was usually $200, but he was able to get $500 to keep the Braves guys spelling because, as he put it, "They're easier. People are like, 'Oh, we want these celebrities to stay in there.'"

Ultimately, Loud uses his mic and the power that comes with it to raise money for the cause and make the night even more fun for all in attendance.

"It is full of giggles and laughter that you cannot even believe," Loud said.

Participating teams, which this year include different police chiefs from around Cobb, young professionals, lawyers and judges and Kiwanis Club members, dress up in costume and imitate characters for the event.

Local attorney Joy Doss was Morticia Addams on last year's Kiwanis Club team. This year, she will join Matt Giddens and Bobby Johnson in representing Leadership Cobb's 2023 class.

"I can't promise we'll win the spelling bee, but what we're going for is fan favorite," Doss said.

While she would not reveal her team's theme this year, she said it's bound to be a hit.

"I kind of just like to think it's a not-so-serious, hilarious, fun night with amazing people for a very serious mission of serving our students in Cobb County and Marietta City (schools)," Doss said. "That's why we do it. We're getting all dolled up and dressed up, and I think the audience is going to like what we bring to the table this year."

The event begins with a VIP program at 5:30 p.m., followed by the start of the general program at 7 p.m.

Tickets for this year's bee are available at the Strand's website ($20 for general admission, $75 for VIP).