Dewey's Decimators again win Reaching Heights Spelling Bee

Dewey's Decimators Chris Mentrek, Victor Rosenberg and Susan Marshall proudly display the Big Plastic Bee Trophy, with Krista Hawthorne (at right), director of Reaching Heights. Courtesy of ReachingHeights.

The 27th annual Reaching Heights Adult Community Spelling Bee went eight rounds on April 18, on the Heights High auditorium stage.

Dewey’s Decimators, representing Friends of the Heights Libraries, correctly spelled “chiaroscurist” to win the fun—but quite serious—spelling competition.

Spellers Victor Rosenberg, Susan Marshall and Chris Mentrek were happy to bring home the team’s fourth victory, tying it with the OOPS team, representing the Cleveland Orchestra musicians, as the “winningest” in the history of the Bee.

Upper Case, representing Case Western Reserve University, was the fundraising champion again this year, collecting more than $1,700 to benefit the work of Reaching Heights.

Collectively, participating teams raised $11,000 for Reaching Heights. 

Dewey’s Decimators received the Big Plastic Bee trophy to display at the Lee Road Branch of Heights Libraries, and each of its team members took home gift certificates to Blossom Music Festival and the Cleveland Running Company on Lee Road.

A community event more than a spelling competition, this year’s Bee included a pre-Bee dinner; music from Drill, Heights High Marching Band percussionists who led the parade of spellers into the auditorium; the Heights High Women Barbershoppers, who sang during the fourth-round break; and a raffle and bake sale.

New teams representing Oxford Teachers; the mayors of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and South Euclid; A Mindful Approach; and the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio competed this year.

Steve Presser was the Bee’s master of ceremonies for the 23rd year. Cynthia Booker, Digital Video & Television Production instructor at Heights High, served as pronouncer, and Steve Titchenal projected the words for the audience, for the 25th year.

Nancy Levin, director of Heights Libraries, Alisa Lawson-McKinnie, 11th-grade principal at Heights High, and Robert Swaggard, director of curriculum and instruction for the CH-UH City School District, were judges.

Team sponsors included two groups of local Jazzercisers, and many individuals, including Reaching Heights Spelling Bee founder Donalene Poduska; former Cleveland Heights Council Member Nancy Dietrich, who celebrated her 26th year as a speller; and members of a Heights alumni team, The Comeback Kids. Additional sponsors included board of education members, mayors, city council members, Cleveland Heights city staff, Friends of the Heights Libraries, Squire Patton Boggs LLC, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Forest Hill Church, and the PTAs of Gearity, Noble, Fairfax and Roxboro elementary schools, and Heights Middle School.

Reaching Heights is grateful to the school district for use of space in Heights High and for the services provided by the stage crew and custodial staff.

It also thanks the local businesses that provided food, raffle items, sponsorship ads, and winners’ prizes, including Stone Oven, Zagara’s Marketplace, Whole Foods, the Cleveland Orchestra, Melt, Cleveland Cinemas, The Fairmount, Buffalo Wild Wings, Tommy's, For Goodness Cakes, Pizza BOGO, Atma Center, Family Connections, Ensemble Theatre, Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant, Cleveland iPhone Repair, Heights Dental Group, New Heights Grill, Lake Erie Ink, State Farm Agent Betsy Warner, Cleveland Running Company, Verne & Ellsworth Hann, and Artful.

Reaching Heights is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to mobilize community resources to foster highly valued public schools that provide all Cleveland Heights-University Heights students a successful education.

For more information, visit or call 216-932-5110.

Krista Hawthorne

Krista Hawthorne is the executive director of Reaching Heights.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:50 AM, 05.01.2018