Sunday, Apr 14th

Scarsdale Librarians Win Spelling Bee

LibrariansA team of librarians called The Killer Bees won the bee.14 swarms of 42 brave spellers took the stage at Scarsdale High School on Friday night March 1 to compete in the Friends of the Scarsdale Library Spelling Bee.

JoshMilsteinEmcee Josh MilsteinBefore the fun began, Library Director Elizabeth Bermel came to the mic and joked, “I can’t believe that it has been four years since I last stood before you to welcome you to the Bee. Good thing not much has happened since then!” She noted all the progress that was made in building and opening the new library and getting through the COVID crisis. She said, “Now, in 2024, I can say that our vision for the Scarsdale Public Library has been realized. The reimagined building is a bustling hub, with programs filling our new spaces, study rooms in constant use, reading areas and work tables occupied at all hours, a thriving cafe, and circulation of physical and electronic materials as strong as ever. It truly is a community destination. Our staff is dedicated, professional, welcoming and helpful, and they are the ones who make the Library “house” a Library “home” for many. I cannot thank them enough for all they do. While we have faced significant challenges these last few years, we have come out the other side stronger and better for it.”

Bermel welecome “esteemed emcee” and SHS Alumni Josh Milstein who read the words to spell from a list supplied by the Friends of the Scarsdale Library. Some of the words were derived from other languages and it was tricky to pronounce them in a way that would give the teams clues to their spelling. As the contest is a single elimination tournament all it took was one wrong letter to knock out a swarm. And as in prior years, the contest went very quickly.

With clever names like “The Bee Gees,” Spellbinder,” and “The Honey Bees,” they took their seats on stage to test their acumen against some of the brightest minds in the burbs. The first round was divided into Swarms A, B, C and D, with the winners of those swarms going on to the final round.

judgesThe Bee was judged by Mayor Justin Arest, Assemblymember Amy Paulin and Library Director Beth BermelThe contest was judged by Scarsdale Mayor Justin Arest, Assemblymember Amy Paulin and Library Director Elizabeth Bermel. In the initial rounds, teams were given dry erasure boards to write their words and hold them up. Above them, the word, correctly spelled, would appear on a screen. From the audience it was easy to spot mistakes in an instant.

In the first swarm (or round), all four teams succeeded at correctly spelling:





However, the next word, “sacrilegious” tripped up three teams, leaving the “Bee Arthur Manor’ team to go to the final round.

The next swarm was similar. All four teams successfully spelled:


ParablefrankPrevious winners Seth Ross, Frank Lichtenberg and Randy Guggenheimer were eliminated by the word P-E-L-L-U-C-I-D



But yet another word derived from French, “Connoisseur” took out “The Bees Knees” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”

The remaining two teams spelled “Curvaceous” correctly. However, the Spellbinders, who had won previous spelling bees, spelled “Pellucid” with one “L’ rather than two, leaving a team of librarians called “The Killer Bees” to go to the finals.

The three teams in Swarm 3 included a group of realtors called “Sellers and Spellers,” along with “Beetlejuice” and library trustees called “Trustbees.”

They all sailed through the spelling of:

HaikuJosephsJodi Josephs of "Spellers and Sellers" wowed the audience when she spelled A-N-N-A-T-T-O







After everyone misspelled Escritoire, a French writing desk, Milstein said the word “Annatto” which knocked out two teams leaving the realtors to go to the final. FYI, what is Annatto? Wikipedia says it’s “an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree.”

The fourth swarm included three teams of high school students. They all spelled Meme and Feign correctly. One team misspelled “Acrylic” and that swarm was over quickly after “The Beests” left the”C” out of “Lacquer,” leaving “To Bee or Not to Bee” to go on to the final round.

Following intermission and refreshments, “Bee Arthur Manor,” “Killer Bees”, “Spellers and Sellers” and “To Bee or Not to Bee” took the stage for the final round. For this phase, the white boards were put away and one representative from each team had to stand up and spell the word their team was given.

Again, the round went quickly.

Spellers and Sellers were knocked out by the word, “Soapwort,” (which is a wildflower.)

Representatives from the remaining teams successfully spelled:






But things came to a quick close when the students misspelled “Hemorrhage” and “Bee Arthur Manor” was knocked out attempting to spell the Italian pasta “Orecchiette.”

That left the team of librarians to spell “Cacophonous,” which high school librarian Liz Waltzman did successfully and her team, which also included Ricki Goe and Nancy Wissman, was declared the winner of the 2024 bee. It was fitting that those who spend their lives with words were able to master the contest.

In between swarms, Trivia Emcee Dara Gruenberg had the crowd stumped with literary questions for both kids and adults.

Gruenberg asked, “What Dr. Seuss character was kind to the environment?” and “Who was Curious George’s friend?” and “What are the names of the two friends in Elena Ferrante’s book, “My Brilliant Friend?” There were answers yelled from the audience and prizes for the ones who got it right.

Leaving the auditorium, you couldn’t help but marvel at the intricacies of the English language, which, despite spellcheck, continues to baffle the best wordsmiths.

Jones Kaplan MayerStacey Mayer, Mary Pat Jones and Nancy KaplanThe event was chaired by Mary Pat Jones and Lauren Rubino along with their committee members: Julie Balsam, Jessica Bandel, Colleen Brown, To-Dao Casey, Allison Block, Janet Han, Lori Harrison, Nancy Kaplan, Elyse Klayman, Wendy Kleiman, Rene Lalwani, Michelle Lichtenberg, Mona Longman, Wendy MacMillan, Stacey Mayer, Margot Milberg, Toby Milstein, Alexandra Vargo, Marin Weinberg.


The Friends of the Scarsdale Library wishes to thank their sponsors:

WORKER BEE ($1,000)
Wilson and Son Jewelers
Jim and Mary Pat Jones

Zachary and Heather Harrison
Ocean First Bank
Scarsdale Foundation
The Laura Miller Team at Houlihan Lawrence
The Law Office of Dana S. Montone

Jessica Bandel
Bronx River Books
Buon Amici
Houlihan Lawrence
Nancy and Zack Kaplan
Wendy and Scott Kleinman
La Dentelliere
Renu Lalwani
Michelle and Frank Lichtenberg
Stacey and Adam Mayer
Margot and Dan Milberg
Once Upon a Lil Cupcake
Sharyl and Gregg Reisman
Lauren and Scott Rubino
Sandbox Theatre
Scoop Shop
The Law Office of Keith Schutzman
Janet and Thomas Youm

Photos by Julie Balsam

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