NEW PHILADELPHIA -- The Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition's Celebrity Spelling Bee is designed to put the "fun" in "fun"draiser while celebrating literacy. It has much more in common with "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" hosted by Jeff Foxworthy than it does with the high pressure Scripps National Spelling.

The word list contains words unique to Tuscarawas County and words selected by the Book Hounds.

The event will take place Thursday, May 12 at 6 p.m. at Kent State Tuscarawas Science and Advanced Technology Center, Room 126.

Locally, the Newcomerstown fourth graders are involved, along with the Mayor Pat Cadle, ELA teacher Matt Davis from Newcomertown schools, and Cheryl Hogue.

The audience will also have the chance to chip in on a $20 Mulligan and a $50 Phone-A-Friend Mulligan.

Highlights

/ Local Celebrity Spellers vie for honey from area bee keepers and bragging right as well as other prizes.

/ Each Celebrity Speller is aided by two fourth-grade coaches from an area school. This year, they are featuring students from the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District's West Elementary.

/ New at this year's event will be a Pick-A-Prize Raffle with items ranging from gift baskets to a kindle. Tickets will cost $1 each or 7 for $5. Tickets will go on sale at 5:15 p.m. prior to the Spelling Bee.

/ The winner of the first TCLC scholarship will be announced at the conclusion of the Spelling Bee. The $500 Scholarship was in established in memory of Keith Rathbun who was a dedicated member of the Board and lifelong champion of literacy.

Every year, they try to improve the Celebrity Spelling Bee to make it more interesting and entertaining for the audience. This year, they have added three new types of Mulligans. A "Howler" Mulligan in which the Celebrity Speller, his/her coaches and supporters in the audience can win an extra chance to spell a word if they can get a book hound to howl within 15 seconds.

The Celebrity Spelling Bee is the primary fundraiser for the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition.

The Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition (TCLC) was established in April of 2008 and is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting and supporting all types of literacy including traditional literacy (reading and writing), financial literacy, medical literacy, technological literacy and cultural literacy in Tuscarawas County. TCLC supports the literacy efforts of area organizations, schools and businesses directly with funding and indirectly by assisting with grants and helping to recruit volunteers.

In addition, the Coalition sponsors One Book One Community, an annual county-wide community read program that brings people together through the shared experience of reading the same book. TCLC purchases materials for Adult Basic Literacy Education and books for area children at several events during the year and collects books for Share A Christmas and the Tuscarawas County Jail. TCLC also sponsors the Book Hound Summer Story Time at the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market. The Book Hounds are therapy dog who on a mission to make reading fun for kids who serve as mascots for the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition. The Book Hounds are co-chairs of the Spelling Bee along with their "people mom" Linda Hren. The dogs sniff out fun dog words for the Spelling Bee.

All funds raised by the Celebrity Spelling Bee stay in Tuscarawas County to benefit area residents of all ages. The board and members of the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition all volunteer their time and talents to improve lives through literacy.