Knights of Columbus looking for spelling bee contestants

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by Jennifer Pallay

LANSING, Ill. (January 1, 2020) – For more than 40 years, the Lansing Knights of Columbus Council 3540 has encouraged children to showcase their s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g skills during its annual spelling bee. This year’s event will take place Feb. 1 at the Council Hall, 17800 Lorenz Ave. in Lansing.

There is no need to sign up in advance. Same day registration begins at 10:00 a.m. with the spelling bee starting at 10:30 a.m. Boys and girls in fifth to eighth grade from all local public and private schools are invited to attend. The event is free and light refreshments will be served.

Pete Marx, the council’s financial secretary and chairperson of the spelling bee, said this is a statewide contest held at various councils throughout Illinois once a year.

Each participating child of Lansing’s bee will leave with a participation certificate. The top three spellers will receive a trophy and certificate and will advance to a regional spelling competition in March. The winners of that event have the opportunity to go to the Knights of Columbus state competition this April in Springfield.

“It’s a simple event,” Marx said, explaining that contestants will sit in a U-shape and have a practice round before the real spelling challenges begin. The audience can sit in rows behind spellers, and judges and a pronouncer will also be present.

Words will be selected from a dictionary and “we stress to the kids when you are given a word and you are hesitant, the pronouncer will give a definition and a sentence so you get an idea on which word and what he’s talking about,” Marx said.

Even though the occasional contestant will get upset when losing a round, the spelling bee is a hit with the kids, Marx said. “It seems like a nice event to run for the kids to get them out. It’s also family oriented with parents and siblings.”

Marx has chaired the spelling bee for about 15 years and said he always aims to attract a larger crowd. Even with handing out posters at schools in Lansing and Lynwood, there are usually fewer than 10 competitors. The children who do participate tend to come back each year, and Marx hopes new contestants will join them.

In addition to the spelling bee, the Lansing Knights are also hosting a freethrow contest for children in fifth to eighth grade. It will take place Jan. 24 at Coolidge School and participation is free. Registration is at 6:00 p.m. and the contest starts at 6:30 p.m.

The council plans family activities throughout the year, including an essay contest and children’s Christmas event.

For more information on the spelling bee, contact Pete Marx at the council: 708-895-7720. Information on other upcoming events is available at www.lansingkofc.com or by following the council on Facebook at LansingKofCNo3540.