26th Annual Spelling Bee Breaks All Records!

Rezaz team

Congratulations to Just Deserts from Pack Memorial Library who won the Bee in a heated spell-off round with the six remaining teams.

It was a packed house at the Salvage Station with 14 eager teams and an enthusiastic audience. Emcee David Ostergaard brought his best punch lines, keeping the teams on their toes and the audience in stitches. He somehow manages to make even the recitation of the spelling bee rules hilarious.

Rezaz team

Much Ado About Sofra, Team Rezaz

There was a Shakespeare-inspired song by Katie Kasben and intermission improv entertainment by The Reasonable Endings, a collective of various improv groups in Asheville. All spellers received valuable prizes, as well as some audience members.

This year broke all records raising $12,000 for Literacy Council programs. Funds were raised through team entry fees and “cheat” purchases, audience tickets, and a hilarious auction of items from emcee David Ostergaard’s home.

We could not have done it without the teams, the audience, our Spelling Bee Committee, and volunteers.

Winning Team: Just Deserts, Pack Memorial Library
Highest Fundraisers: The ‘NUTty Bees, Chestnut/Corner Kitchen
Second Highest Fundraisers: Much Ado About Sofra, Rezaz
Best Team Costume: Just Deserts, Pack Memorial Library

A huge thank you to all the teams that participated this year!

Asheville Citizen-Times
Chai Pani
Diadasias of WWC – Warren Wilson College
Just Deserts – Pack Memorial Library
Much Ado About Sofra – Rezaz
The ‘NUTty Bees – Chestnut/Corner Kitchen
Taming of the Rhu – Rhubarb
SEO & Juliet – JB Media
Simply Macbest – Kendra Castle
The Spell Casters – Calvin Allen
Three Blind Mice – Katherine Cross
Tragically Malicious – Malaprop’s Book Store
UNC Bulldogs – UNCA Alumni
The Wise Fools – Soomo Learning

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Mi Historia: Latinos Today in Western North Carolina

mi historia
mi historia

Sueños is the name of the mural created by El Centro of Henderson County youth in 2003. It shows the beauty of the Latino culture in the United States. Photo courtesy of El Centro.

Join the Literacy Council for the opening reception of the “Mi Historia: Latinos Today in Western North Carolina” exhibit on Monday, April 24th at 5:30 pm. All volunteers, tutors, students, and community members are welcome to participate in the event as we offer a glimpse into the important stories of the local immigrant population.  Light hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine will be provided. 

What is the exhibit about?

This stunning collection of personal testimony and imagery covers everything from why individuals left their home countries to the realities of day-to-day life in the United States. You can expect to learn more about how Latinos have contributed to the state economy, navigated identity conflicts, overcome language barriers, and shared important aspects of culture, such as religion, food, holidays, and art. 

Can’t make opening night?

This exhibit is on loan from the Center for Diversity Education at UNC Asheville and will be available for viewing during regular business hours through the end of May. If you have an extra 30 minutes, stop by the Literacy Council for a self-guided tour of the display. Activity guides will also available to help facilitate reflection.

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Spellbound Children’s Bookshop Event with author Marcus Sedgwick to Benefit the Literacy Council

Marcus Sedgwick event poster

Marcus Sedgwick event posterTickets are on sale now: Spellbound Children’s Bookshop presents internationally award-winning author Marcus Segdwick on the publication day of Saint Death, his newest novel for young adults. This special event benefits the Literacy Council of Buncombe County and will take place at Twisted Laurel in downtown Asheville on Tuesday April 25th at 5:30pm. 

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:30 to eat and mingle. Marcus will be speaking from 6:00 to approximately 7:00 and will sign books directly afterward. The event will be emceed by fellow young adult author Allan Wolf.

Each $45 ticket includes appetizers and a non-alcoholic beverage plus a copy of Saint Death to be signed by the author. Event details and online ticket sales at www.spellboundbookshop.com. (Direct link to order page is http://bit.ly/MSLCOBC.)

Sedgwick’s unflinching narrative is timely and guaranteed to incite discussion, if not debate.”– Booklist, starred review

About the author

Marcus Sedgwick was born and raised in East Kent in the South-east of England. He now lives in the French Alps. Alongside a 16 year career in publishing he established himself as a widely-admired writer of Young Adult fiction; he is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Michael L. Printz Award for 2014, for his novel Midwinterblood. Marcus has also received two Printz Honors, for Revolver in 2011 and The Ghosts of Heaven in 2016, giving him the most citations to date for this prize. His books have been shortlisted for over forty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (six times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (four times).

About the book

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
US hardcover edition available April 25, 2017

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border. On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo’s help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past. Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death–and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.

 

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Scrabble Night

NLAW

The Literacy Council hosted a Scrabble Night on Thursday, February 2nd in honor of National Literacy Action Week, an initiative to strengthen literacy activism in local communities. During the week-long celebration, literacy programs across the nation join together to raise awareness about literacy and create change on college campuses and within the greater community. 

From Competitive Scrabble to Informal Bananagrams

Dr. Bill Snoddy and Jacob Cohen of the Asheville NLAWScrabble Club partnered with the Literacy Council to provide necessary gear including game boards, racks, tiles, clocks, and score sheets for tournament style play. Their Scrabble expertise helped create a competitive environment for players both new and experienced to test the limits of official game rules. Limited to only 25 minutes of play, challengers had to think about word choices quickly and were subject to an electronic word judge program called Zyzzyva to make decisions fairly.

For participants who were uninterested in Scrabble, there was a wide selection of other word games to choose from, including Upwords, Boggle, Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, and Sentence Cubes.

scrabble 1
While the Scrabble Night event was offered as a way to engage the community in fun literacy activities, there was also plenty of time for reflection on the impact of literacy in every day life. Volunteers and literacy advocates in the community shared why literacy was important to them by writing responses on a dry erase board.

Literacy is Important to Me Because…

DSC_0612The Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE) collected responses like the one pictured as part of a social media campaign for National Literacy Action Week. Individuals could submit their pictures for a chance to win a free t-shirt and other prizes over the course of the week. SCALE also offered two free webinars: “Why Literacy Matters” and “Race Based Conversations with Kids Matter”.

Words (and Photos) with Friends

For more photos of Scrabble Night, scroll through our image gallery below or share your own on our Facebook page!

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scrabble 3        DSC_0611 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

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Literacy Council Corporate Partners share “An Hour with Author Wayne Caldwell”

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Author Wayne Caldwell keynoted an event for the Literacy Council's Corporate Partners Monday, Jan. 23, 2017

Locally acclaimed author Wayne Caldwell keynoted an event for the Literacy Council’s Corporate Partners Monday, Jan. 23 aimed to both inspire new strategies for working together and provide a special experience for current partners. 

Wayne Caldwell’s Teachers Inspired His Craft

Caldwell spoke about the early influences that provided him the impetus to not only learn to read, but to read great works of literature. These influences included his adoptive mother and many teachers in the Enka community. A high school teacher even encouraged him to “write the Great American novel.” Caldwell knows that she would be proud, as his novel, Cataloochee, is a 2013 James Still Award winner and a Southern Independent Bestseller Award winner. Caldwell attributed his success to the encouragement he received throughout his childhood.

The Literacy Council Can Support Local Businesses

Robert Foster, of Biltmore Farms Hotels, presented about how his company has partnered with the Literacy Council for the past two years. During this time, the Literacy Council has provided English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at the DoubleTree Biltmore hotel for housekeeping employees. Robert shared stories of employees who had previously declined offers to move into higher positions because they were not confident enough in their English language skills. After spending time in ESOL classes, Robert now found the same employees approaching him more confidently and asking for new positions, in English! He found a way to encourage these employees to take the classes by lightening their workload the day they have class and providing lunch during class. Robert says he has seen such a benefit to his business that he plans to expand the program to other Biltmore Farms Hotels.

How Your Business Can Partner with the Literacy Council

A partnership between a corporation and the Literacy Council can be a critical step toward improving basic literacy and English language skills for employees or other contacts, which in turn improves employee retention, productivity, and promotability. Ultimately, adults with increased literacy and English language skills positively impact our local workforce, economy, and community.

To learn more about starting an on-site class or referring an employee in need of assistance, contact Ashley@litcouncil.com.

To learn more about how to support with the Literacy Council through your business, click here.

Special thanks to Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Lenior Rhine University, Sierra Nevada, and Biltmore Wines for contributing to the event.

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