Spellers have fun while raising money

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Educators and business people came out to support schools this week at the annual Wilson Education Partnership Adult Spelling Bee.

“Welcome to Disney World, Wilson style,” said Robin Williams, executive director of the WEP upon addressing 200 competitors and 100 volunteers brought together to hold the fundraising event in the Hunt High School gymnasium.

For most, the annual event is not so much about spelling as it is about dressing up and having fun all in the name of education.

“Our goal was 45 teams, and we have 50 teams,” said Williams, who is in her first year as the leader of the organization that brings together private supporters of education and applies any funds raised toward worthy projects and other causes in Wilson County Schools.

“It’s the way we get the word about Wilson Education Partnership and what we do out to a lot of people,” Williams said. “We’re trying to support the education system, and we are trying to support teachers and get them what they need for their classroom because if their environment has what they need, the student wins.

“This is a good way for us to let people know who we are and what we do.”

Approximately $14,500 was raised for teacher mini grants at the event.

Sophia Wells, an exceptional education teacher at Elm City Elementary School, said the schools are always in need of financial support.

“We always ask for help and we need help with funds and with support for our schools, so we want to give back to Wilson Education Partnership and help support them because they in turn support us,” Wells said.

“They do a lot for our schools and the community, and we appreciate it,” said Blake Tucker, a math teacher at Stantonsburg Elementary School who came dressed as King Triton from “The Little Mermaid.”

Sandy Webb, a fifth-grade teacher at Stantonsburg Elementary, dressed as “Little Mermaid’s” Ursula

“I try my best,” Webb said. “There’s a lot of people here. The parking lot was full all the way to the road. They are a good help to us. They do lots of good things for us.”

Justin Fulghum, a Wilson Police officer, came dressed as a, well, a Wilson Police officer, spelling on behalf of Team WPD.

“We kept it simple,” said Fulghum, who admitted he wasn’t the best speller in the world.

“With all my reports that get kicked back, I would say spelling has been an issue,” Fulghum said. “It’s not really even about the spelling. It’s about coming out and having a good time. We like to be seen other than our law enforcement aspect, so we don’t always want or interactions with people in the city of Wilson to be negative, so when we come out here, they see us in a different light. We’ve got a captain with us. We just like to get out and mingle with the citizens of Wilson and let them see a different side of us.”

Suni Williams of Perdue Pharmaceuticals had one of the most original costumes.

“I came out as the house from ‘Up!’” Williams said. “I’m actually from Wilson. I graduated from Hunt High School, and we just want to come out and support the community. It’s just great community outreach.”

“We believe in giving back to the community,” said Shelley Diaz, also of Perdue Pharmaceuticals. “Perdue is very big on that. It is also an opportunity for us to support the community and bond as a team.”

Jennifer Lewis, Rock Ridge Elementary School principal who is Wilson County Schools principal of the year, said the event is all about having fun.

“I just decided to dress and have a good time to support our children. We have a good time. We laugh a lot. It’s just a lot of fun,” Lewis said. “Wilson Education Partnership comes back and supports our children in a variety of ways. They put money back into the children that we raise at this fundraiser.”

This year’s winner was Elm City Middle School.

Spirit winners were Lucama Elementary School and Beddingfield High School. Winners of the most creative table decoration prize was the team from Stantonsburg Elementary with a “Little Mermaid” theme.