*This story first appeared The Budget’s May 16, 2018, Local Edition.
By Beverly Keller
The former North Kingsville Elementary Spelling Bee Champion can now add Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition Celebrity Spelling Bee Champion to his resume.
Baltic and Ragersville Principal Jeff Williams went head-to-head with “Mary Poppins” on May 10 and was crowned champion when he spelled cuirass correctly followed by conscientious for the win.
Joining Williams on stage were his coaches Regina Beachy, a fourth-grader from Ragersville Elementary, and Benson Yoder, a fourth-grader from Baltic Elementary. All were awarded prizes.
Williams noted that the win comes 30 years after his first spelling bee title in northern Ohio but credited his coaches with the win. “They were awesome,” he said. “I owe these two fourth graders lunch now.”
Mary Poppins, portrayed by Tamara Benson, noted she wouldn’t have wanted to lose to anyone else in the competition. She spelled schadenfreude correctly but waivered on cuirass.
The event is the primary fundraiser for the Literacy Coalition and is chaired by Linda Hren, director at the Gnadenhutten Public Library. “It’s a lot of fun,” Hren noted.
Also competing were Troy Herzig, Jan McInturf and Nathan Springer, in addition to last year’s champion, Scott Finnell.
Funds raised go back into the community in the form of a scholarship and sponsorship of events like One Book, One Community.