Annual Reaching Heights Spelling Bee will honor Reggie Evans

Reggie Evans

Where can you find a federal judge, a Cleveland Orchestra violinist, the owner of Big Fun, and a trio of young parents known as the Comeback Kids? Only at the Reaching Heights Adult Community Spelling Bee. The 22nd annual edition of this campy yet competitive community event takes place April 17 at 7 p.m. at Cleveland Heights High School. Admission is free.

Reggie Evans will be honored with this year’s Friend of Public Education Award. A longtime advocate of the CH-UH schools, Evans has served as PTA officer, levy co-chair, and Reaching Heights Board member and president. He and his wife, Terri, are parents of two Heights High graduates.

This annual event is a community collaboration to support public education. Each three-member team pays a $500 entrance fee and is encouraged to solicit additional support from friends, neighbors and co-workers to become the Fundraising Champion—a title held for more than 10 years by Upper Case, a team of professors from Case Western Reserve University. Upper Case typically raises more than $1,000 above the $500 minimum. 

There’s a surprising amount of tension at the Bee. “It doesn’t seem difficult when you see a word, but to hear a word and then spell it can be quite challenging,” commented Nancy Dietrich, former Cleveland Heights City Council member who has spelled in all 21 bees.

The Bee raises about $15,000 each year for programs that support academic and musical excellence in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools, such as tutoring programs and music scholarships. “Twenty-five teams can fit on the auditorium stage, so we hope to fill it to capacity,” explained Saroya Queen-Tabor, chair of the Spelling Bee Committee this year, and president of the Reaching Heights Board of Directors.

The Cleveland Orchestra boasts the Bee’s most successful team. OPSALA, short for Orchestral Orthographers Publicly Support Annoyingly Lengthy Acronyms, was co-champion in both 2010 and 2012, and solo champion in 2006 and 2007. Each year's winning team gets its name engraved on the coveted Big Plastic Bee Trophy.

This year, Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, will again serve as the Bee’s chief judge, working with Doug Heuer, CH-UH City School District superintendent, and Tony Zupancic, a professor at Notre Dame College. Word pronouncer Nancy Levin, CH-UH Public Library director, will be back, as will Steve Titchenal, who projects the words for the audience to see, and Big Fun impresario Steve Presser, the event’s master of ceremonies.

For more information, contact Krista Hawthorne at or 216-932-5110.

Krista Hawthorne

Krista Hawthorne is assistant director of Reaching Heights.

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Volume 6, Issue 2, Posted 11:36 AM, 01.31.2013