Optimists seek

April 20, 2001

to defend crown

Editor's note: This is one in a series of articles by the Literacy Volunteers of America Imperial Valley chapter previewing the annual LVA community spelling bee May 3.

The El Centro Optimist Club has been a supporter of the Literacy Volunteers of America Imperial Valley chapter community spelling bee since its start in 1989 and the club won the contest in 2000.

"Go big or stay home" was the philosophy of a team made up of captain Bob Fischer and members Steve Hogan and Connie Valenzuela that won last year.


Fischer said the Optimist Club had come in second place for three years and it was ready for a victory.

Different volunteers make up the team each year. Fischer said team members used to study but now use the strategy of going for the hardest-word category. That is how the team developed the philosophy "go big or stay home."

Another victorious group last year was Government Agencies Federal Credit Union, which won the first ever LVA booster award, given to the group with the most supporters at the spelling bee.

GAFCU, like the Optimist Club, has been involved with the spelling bee from its inception.

The GAFCU team and its supporters were instantly recognizable last year in their matching purple GAFCU shirts. GAFCU's slogan of "Personal rewards in developing excellence" was seen all around the Spelling Bee, according to LVA officials.

Both the El Centro Optimist Club and GAFCU are involved in community service and literacy, LVA officials said.

Those involved with both groups think their participation gives exposure to the LVA spelling bee.

"The more people who recognize this as a neat thing, the better," said Beverly Dawson, chief executive officer of GAFCU.

Fischer said LVA performs a valuable service. He said while the thrust of the Optimist Club is youth, it is important to make sure adults can read.

"How can parents teach their children to read if they can't?" Fischer asked.

Both the El Centro Optimists spelling team and the GAFCU boosters will be back this year to defend their titles.

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