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Centinela State Prison team member anxious about participating in Spelling Bee for Literacy

April 26, 2002|By KATIE THOMASON

Special to this newspaper

This is the second in a series of columns leading up to the Literacy Volunteers of America/Imperial Valley chapter 14th annual Spelling Bee for Literacy May 2.

When I was first asked to participate in the annual Spelling Bee for Literacy for the Centinela State Prison team a couple years ago, I was a little anxious.

After all, I knew I could spell but I have also learned like many others to rely on the spell check on the computer.

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When I was given the words to study I was overwhelmed but I persevered. I found out who my teammates were; I knew and worked with one but the other, I had only heard his name at work. So, needless to say I was nervous about how well we would do as a team.

Well, we all met and got along well and were able to figure out a strategy for the competition. That year our team tied for first place, I met a new friend at work and rediscovered the true meaning of teamwork.

In two years I was asked to be on the Centinela team again. I agreed and again knew one of my teammates but not the other. The same situation occurred again and now I have another friend at work. We also did well, placing fifth.

That year we also took on a junior member who was one of my teammates' high school daughter. She was a great asset and it was good to have a current student to give input on the difficult words we attempted.

For both years I participated, the Centinela team received the booster award, which shows that the teamwork I experienced also extended to our co-workers who came out and supported us.

I think sometimes we take for granted the ability to read.

This competition helps to remind people that it is important for everyone to read more.

The junior members' participation will help teens relay the message of literacy to their classmates so they may not have to struggle in the real world when they graduate and also teach them the meaning of teamwork, which will be needed for the rest of their lives.

The money raised from this competition will give many illiterate people the opportunity to succeed in the world and to experience the joy of accomplishment, as I have in this competition.

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