2016 Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee Winners

A Wild and Wacky Event for a Great Cause

Kalamazoo Public Library hosts the Great Grown-up Spelling Bee to benefit Ready to Read, our early childhood literacy program. The 16th Annual Great Grown-up Spelling Bee, held Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at Western Michigan University’s Bernhard Center, was another “wildly” successful event!

We raised more than $20,000 again this year, and 100% of the proceeds will be used to purchase books for Kalamazoo County children. Eleven wonderfully creative, enthusiastic and entertaining community teams competed for this year’s spelling and team spirit awards. Or heartfelt thanks goes out to our sponsors and everyone else who makes this event possible.

Event Photos »

Download and share terrific photos of this year’s event from KPL’s Flickr Photostream

Congratulations to the 2016 Winners!


Winning Spellers:

  • First Place: The Breakfast Optimist Club
  • Second Place: Trestlewood Pediatrics
  • Third Place: PNC Bank


Breakfast Optimist Club spellers Julie Howes and Jeanette Meyer
Photo: John Lacko

Team Spirit Awards:

  • People’s Choice: Friendship Village
  • Most Creative Cheer: Kalamazoo RESA
  • Best Costumes: Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo
  • Most Enthusiastic Team: The Breakfast Optimist Club


The Breakfast Optimist Club Cheerleaders
Photo: John Lacko


The Friendship Village Cheerleaders
Photo: John Lacko


The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo Cheerleaders
Photo: John Lacko


The Kalamazoo RESA Cheerleaders
Photo: John Lacko

Watch the Bee on Public Media Network TV or Online! 

Streaming Online


TV Broadcast Schedule: Channel 187 (Charter) Channel 99 (U-Verse)

  • Monday, November 14 @ 11 am
  • Tuesday, November 15 @ 9 pm
  • Wednesday, November 16 @ 3 pm
  • Saturday, November 19 @ 10 am

2016 Teams & Spellers


Borgess Health

Spellers: Jennifer Barlow, Jnique Dillard

Breakfast Optimist Club

Spellers: Julie Howes, Jeanette Meyer

Friendship Village

Spellers: Ann Bensinger, Katelin Vandeburge

Kalamazoo & Portage Public Libraries:
 Sponsored by Jeff Lee, Special Agent,
 Berkshire Hathaway Home Service

Spellers: Milan Harden, Saleem Ismail

Kalamazoo RESA: Sponsored by Kalamazoo Sunrise Rotary

Spellers: Sarah Drumm, Samantha Stevens

The Ladies Library Association

Spellers: Paula Jamison, Judy Sabo

The Learning Network

Spellers: Joanna Dales, Jared Volz 

PNC Grow Up Great

Spellers: Ben Boggs, Elizabeth Noel 

Psi Iota Xi

Spellers: Kristin Hammond, Brenda Orwig


Public Media Network

Spellers: Jake Andrews, Bronwyn Drost

Trestlewood Pediatrics

Spellers: Stephanie Somers, Anthony VanEs

The Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee Features

  • Teams of eight adults: two courageous spellers and six outrageous cheerleaders
  • Spellers compete together in two 60-second rounds of fast paced spelling
  • Cheerleaders perform one 2-3 minute cheer in Round One
  • Prizes are awarded for best spelling, best costumes, most enthusiastic, most creative cheers and audience favorite
  • Hors d'oeuvres and cash bar
  • Event recorded by Public Media Network TV and broadcast on subsequent dates

Official Rules

  1. This is a team competition. A team is composed of two spellers. The role of speller will alternate between the two team members within each round.
  2. This is a timed competition. There will be two 1-minute rounds of spelling.
  3. All correctly spelled words in the first round will be worth 1 point each. All correctly spelled words in the second round will be worth 2 points each.
  4. The team with the highest total score from the two rounds will be the winner.
  5. Spellers must spell each word from start to finish in one attempt. Spellers may not “pass” on any words.
  6. Spellers may request that a word be pronounced again.
  7. Any question about the spelling of a word must be referred to the judges at the end of each team’s 1-minute round.
  8. The judges’ decisions on all questions shall be final.
  9. In the event of a tie the scores for the second round of spelling will determine the placement of teams. 

Become a Spelling Bee Sponsor!

Join the Fun! Sponsor the Spelling Bee with a donation of any amount.

Sponsor the Bee at the Bronze $500 level or higher and you may opt to send a team to the Bee! Can't send a team? Choose to have the library recruit a non-profit team to compete on your behalf. Learn more

Register Your Team!

We are now searching for sponsors, teams of spellers and cheerleaders! Call 269-553-7885 for more information. Download the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee study guide (PDF)

Previous Winners & Spellers »

Each year, the Great Grown-up Spelling Bee raises more than $20,000 to buy books for Kalamazoo County children! See the winning teams and sponsors from past Bees; view and download photos and video from past events. Learn more...