MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Public Schools Spelling Bee kicks off in just under a week! It’s not just students who are getting prepared.
Another vital role – the Spelling Bee mascot. Every day, two MPS administrators zip up the suit, pull on the wings, and put on the head in order to be the bee. Stephanie O’Connor-Schutt and John Hill were both recruited for the job.
“I believe the words she used were that I had a ‘bee-like charisma,’” Stephanie says.
“So I thought, ‘to bee or not to bee,’ was the question,” says John.
“I caught the buzz!” Stephanie adds.
Jokes aside, this job is no walk in the park. Even just wearing the head is a challenge.
“It’s probably close to ten pounds,” John says. “It seems heavy.”
Stephanie and John are both runners and have been stepping up their training in anticipation of the big day.
“I think that’ll help me to persevere and keep that stamina up,” Stephanie says.
“I just did a half marathon, so I feel confident that I’m up for it,” John says. “I’ve got salt tablets, electrolyte capsules and some gel packs, so I’m good to go.”
But all that work will be worth it for the kids.
“The process of being in a spelling bee in elementary school really helped build my confidence, to help improve my public speaking skills, [I] learned how to think quickly,” says Stephanie.
“I think students like to be able to demonstrate that they’ve learned things and feel success and have some recognition, and I think the spelling bee is a great way for that to happen,” John adds.
Which means one of the biggest jobs for the Spelling Bee-Bee is to just help lighten the mood.
“No matter what, there’s this big, giant bumble bee running around like a goofball,” Stephanie says. “So, they can’t possibly worry about too much, because at least… they’re not dressed up like a giant bumble bee!”
The Spelling Bee will be hosted on May 14th at Vincent High School for grades 3-5. The next round will be May 21st for grades 6-8.