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Bill Yerkes’ Honeybees win library spelling bee


When Leanne Yerkes read about the Community Spelling Bee, an adult team competition to raise funds for The Free Library of New Hope & Solebury, in the Bucks County Herald, she was abuzz with interest.

“Originally, we three Yerkes girls decided to enter the bee,” said Leanne, who is a physical education teacher at Unami Middle School. “We all love to spell and have enjoyed family spelling bees with my kids, nephews and nieces.”

The “three Yerkes girls” are sisters Leanne and Bonnie Yerkes, and Leanne’s daughter, Amy Raab. “We asked my father Bill Yerkes, a lifelong Buckingham farmer, if he would sponsor us in exchange for naming the team Bill’s Honeybees,” according to Leanne, who added: “We are his honeys!”

When Bonnie Yerkes developed pneumonia and had to back out, fellow Unami Middle School teacher Lisa Canfield jumped in to join the team the day before the bee was held on Oct. 4.

In the final swarm, with only three teams left in the competition, the word, “sacrilegious,” was announced. “We were two to one on how to spell the word, but Lisa, who’s our English teacher, was confident, so we went with her answer.”

The word stumped the other teams, and the rest is spelling history as Bill’s Honeybees were named the winners of the 2019 Bee.

Leanne and Lisa wore their Bee medals to Unami Middle School the Monday after the Bee. In addition to displaying the trophy, the school played the song “Don’t Stop Believin” for the morning music.

“We are still basking in the glow,” the Honeybees said.