Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Phairphax Spellerz Win Reaching Heights Silver Bee

The team representing Fairfax Elementary won this year's Reaching Heights Adult Community Spelling Bee.


(L-R) Reaching Heights Executive Director Krista Hawthorne with the Phairphax Spellerz, Kate Macleod, Julie Powell, and Kirsten Parkinson, representing Fairfax Elementary School.

April 26, 2016 -- This year’s Reaching Heights Adult Community Spelling Bee came to an exciting finish in round 9 when Phairphax Spellerz, Kate Macleod, Julie Powell, and Kirsten Parkinson, representing Fairfax Elementary School, correctly spelled “perovskite.” Perovskite is a mineral consisting of an oxide of calcium, titanium, and rare earth elements.

The competition started strong with a perfect first round in which every team spelled their first word correctly. All but 2 of the original 21 teams held on through Round 3, the Musical Round, a new addition this year, when spellers could be excused for one incorrect, missing or extra letter if they sang the spelling of their word. In rounds 4 and 5 a total of 11 teams misspelled their words and left the stage. Six more teams fell in Rounds 6 and 7 and then there were the final 3: OOPS, 4 time previous winners, representing the Cleveland Orchestra; Rox Rocks!, representing Roxboro Elementary and Middle Schools; and the Phairphax Spellerz, who ultimately won the coveted bee trophy.

Honoring the 25th anniversary, the “Silver Bee” included a visual walk through history projected onscreen, silver-themed words, and 2 adorable “silver bees” who shared silver wrapped candies. The first Executive Director of Reaching Heights, Linda Logan, and one of the Co-chairs of the first Bee Committee, Donalene Poduska, attended and were publically thanked for establishing the Bee as an annual event. More than just a good idea for building community support for public education, the Bee has raised more than $175,000 in funds that have supported hundreds of School Team Grants and allowed Reaching Heights programs like Many Villages Tutoring, Role Model speakers in fifth grade classrooms, and the Exceptional Children’s Advocacy Group (ECAG) to continue.

Steve Presser celebrated his 21st year as the Master of Ceremonies, Nancy Levin, Director of Heights Libraries served as Pronouncer, and Steve Titchenal projected the words for the audience for his 23rd year. Tony Zupancic, retired Notre Dame College professor, served as a judge along with Dr. Brian Williams, Coordinator of Alternative Learning for the CH-UH City School District and Dr. Talisa Dixon, Superintendent of CH-UH City School District.

Team sponsors included 2 groups of Jazzercisers, Coventry Merchants, Camp Roosevelt-Firebird, Heights Alumni, and many individuals from Cleveland Heights and University Heights, including Nancy Dietrich who celebrated her 24th year as a speller in the Reaching Heights Bee. Cleveland Heights City Council Members, Board Of Education members, Montlack Realty, Friends of the Heights Libraries, SS& D Foundation, Quintana’s Barbershop & Dream Spa, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Forest Hill Church, and the Noble, Fairfax, and Roxboro PTAs all generously sponsored teams. The team representing Case Western Reserve University that calls itself Upper Case was named the Fundraising Champion again this year for collecting more than $1,200.

Reaching Heights expressed gratitude to the school district for use of Heights High and the services provided by the Stage Crew and custodial staff, and also to the local businesses that provided food, paper goods, raffle baskets and winners’ prizes including: Melt, Bar & Grilled, the Stone Oven, Dave’s Supermarket, Zagaras Marketplace, Whole Foods, the Cleveland Orchestra, Family Connections, Apollo’s Fire, Fire Spice Company, Restless Coffee, The Wine Spot, and Nichols Packaging Company.

Reaching Heights is a non-profit 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 the Reaching Heights website at or call 216-932-5110.

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