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In a plausive moment, the ACES Education Fund is the true winner

March 26, 2015 By Gerri Berendzen Conferences

All you need to know about the ACES Education Fund Spelling Bee on Thursday evening was this — after the 22nd round, my iPad stopped auto-correcting the words I was typing in as notes to write this story.

I had stopped knowing how to spell them five rounds before. Now Apple didn’t know either.

But Spelling Bee winner Lisa McLendon and runner-up Deborah Stein knew. Well, mostly.

Oh, there is one more thing you need to know. The Spelling Bee raised approximately $1,600 for the Education Fund, which provides scholarships to copy editing students. Meaning there were two winners Thursday.

The bee started out with 14 contestants, but words like “mountebank,” “obstreperous” and “insouciance” slowly weeded the crowd to just two.

There were several laughs along the way. When given the word “louche” to spell, Andy Hollandbeck asked if the word could be “used in a sentence about meatloaf.” Pronouncer Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster quickly replied “the singer or the food?”

It was just part of a food theme for Hollandbeck. When he seemed stumped on the word “maraschino,” ACES Board Member Mark Allen rushed to the stage with one from his drink. Hollandbeck ate it.

But the event really belonged to McLendon and Stein. Stein spelled “oppung” correctly, then stumbled on “nescient.” But McLendon wiffed on “ochlocracy,” saving Stein. Then Stein got “graveolent” wrong, but McLendon missed “rufosity.”

Then the two trades correct spellings — osteitic, gelid and fustigate — while whittling down Stamper’s bee list. But Stein missed “periplus” in round 24 and McLendon followed up with a miss on “concinniate.”

Two rounds later, McLendon started out right with “miniaceous,” but Stein missed “circumforaneous,” and McLendon came back with a correct “plausive” for the win.

In fact, plausive was followed by applause.

Along with Stamper, the judges for the bee were Corrie Loeffler, program manager of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Amy Goldstein, an editor at ESPN, a finalist of a Scripps Bee and, perhaps most important, last year’s winner of the EdFund Spelling Bee.

McLendon was the runner-up in 2014, and she had only one goal in mind Thursday.

“I was in it to win it,” McLendon, whose Twitter handle is @MadamGrammar, said. But she said the competition was intense.

“It was an honor to be on the stage with Lisa McLendon,” Stein, an editor at Jhpiego, said after congratulating the winner.

The crowd clearly enjoyed the 29-round competition. Just don’t ask people what all those words mean.

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