Spellers Wanted for 39th Annual Orland Park Open Spelling Bee

Spellers Wanted for 39th Annual Orland Park Open Spelling Bee
Posted on 09/22/2017

A long standing Orland Park tradition returns on Sunday, October 15, 2017 when the Presbyterian Church of Orland Park and the Village of Orland Park co-host the 39th annual Orland Park Open Spelling Bee.

"When fall arrives in Orland Park, you know it's time for Dr. Smith's annual spelling bee," said Village Trustee Jim Dodge. "The village has been a part of the contest for many years and it's fun to see families bring generations to compete."

Retired School Superintendent Dr. Bill Smith has been overseeing the annual contest for nearly four decades. He credits Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" for prompting the idea of a community wide spelling bee.

"In the story, they had an all town spelling bee in 1882 in the Dakota Territories. I held my first spelling bee during our nation's bi-centennial in Oak Lawn in 1976 and have held more than 100 since then," Smith said.

Orland Park village officials serve as judges for the contest each year.

"This is a nice, old fashioned community event that attracts people of all ages from throughout the region," said Trustee Kathy Fenton. "We invite everyone who enjoys spelling to compete --- age eight and older from all towns."

Those ages 8-10 compete at 2 p.m., followed by age 11 through high school at 2:45 p.m. Adults compete at 3:30 p.m. with the awards presentation at 4:30 p.m. The competition is held at the Presbyterian Church at 13401 Wolf Road in Orland Park.

"Events like the spelling bee take us back to Orland Park's early years," said Trustee Pat Gira. "Imagine the village's early residents competing against each other for the title of best speller in town."

Winners are determined according to age groups with 12 trophies and 24 medals presented to the winners. First, second and third place trophies are awarded for four categories, three divided according to age and the fourth category of overall winners.

There is no charge to participate however pre-registration is strongly encouraged. The competition is open to everyone age eight through seniors and participants need not live in Orland Park. Ribbons and trophies will be awarded to top finishers.

Participants can register via email by writing to pcorland@gmail.com. Include the name of the speller, home address, phone number, age and school attending. Or participants may register by phone by calling the church at 708/448-8142.

"The Orland Park Open Spelling Bee affords an opportunity for inter-generational competition," Smith said, "You don't find many things that do that."