Our team should have been a shoo-in to win the first annual Corporate Challenge Spelling Bee.
We had two reporters and an editor, after all, as well as coworkers from other departments in The Daily News known to be good spellers. How could we not cruise to victory?
Turns out without our dictionaries, Canadian Press Caps and Spelling guide and computer spell check, we're not as hot as we thought (well, I should take ownership of that view as my own).
Scouting out the competition while scarfing back eggs benedict, I put my bets on our toughest competition being a team of tidy, astute looking members of a book club who had cleverly dubbed themselves Between the Covers.
But the Daily Dominators — the name our group of eight came up with — were taken down by a bunch of legal beagles, the Fulton Force Majeure.
The words were tough: was it rhinocerous or rhinosaurus (rhinoceros)? Sacreligious or sacriligous (sacrilegious)? Hemorrage or hemmorhage (hemorrhage)?
We correctly spelled accommodate, apocryphal, Chihuahua, Tsawwassen (had a ringer who'd lived there and gave us the tip to pronounce it out as T-saw-was-sen), as well as a host of others. We managed 10 out of 15, in fact, but Fulton got two more than us.
Oh, the shame!
In our defence, does anyone ever use those words? Unless heading to the ferry, few were part of common speech and for newspaper purposes, we're supposed to write to a Grade 6 reading level so as to engage the broadest group of readers.
We're told to purge complicated words from news stories, as readers will not bother checking the dictionary if they don't know it, they'll just stop reading.
It wasn't supposed to be a cutthroat competition anyway; the focus was on fundraising for literacy programs.
The good sports on the 10 teams raised more than $8,000 for Raise a Reader, which will go toward initiatives like LinK's one to one children's literacy program (which trains volunteers to give reading support to tentative readers in Grades 1-7), and KELLI's Mother Goose program (young parents learn how to interact with their babies and tots using oral rhymes, songs and stories).
Prior to the challenge Wednesday morning, a participant in Street School bravely shared the importance of literacy in her life. Adult learner Maureen Biccum shyly shared an emotional story about struggling as a single mom on welfare in her early years, and as time passed, she was never able to find a balance between earning a living and trying to finish school.
During three years in street school here in Kamloops, however, she got to "go to work and go at my own pace." She said she was always welcomed, enjoyed hot meals and snacks, and after graduation in June, will start a new job in September.
Hearing the pride in her voice didn't quell my butterflies about the spelling challenge ahead but certainly brought it into perspective.
It was a fun, if not humbling, way to start the day while supporting a good cause and I encourage others to sign up when the event rolls around next year.
But be forewarned, future challengers, our team will be studying hard in expectation of a better placing, fun competition or not!