News Details



Last Wednesday evening was a B-I-G one at the Ridgefield Playhouse as the best of the best were present to make up the 8th Annual Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association’s Spelling Bee Class of 2019. This talented group included 15 local Ridgefielders from all different professional fields representing government, law, business, medicine, arts, transportation, and education among others. And the goal? To win the annual contest of letters and words in support of the RVNA Nursing Education program.

The RVNA Spelling Bee fundraiser is representative of the well-known National Scripps Spelling Bee in that a panel of judges and an official moderator are present along with the group of contestants. However, the twist is that all competitors are well over the age of 15 and there are ways to advance in the competition other than spelling the word correctly. Each contestant can use a “lifeline” or donate twice to the “honey pot” should they not want to spell an unpleasant word. Should a contestant misspell a word, the audience has the opportunity to “buy them back” so it definitely pays to have fans present to cheer one on!

Ridgefield Academy’s Director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning Basil Kolani was part of this esteemed group of contestants. Basil proved that his professional background in academia paid off as he was crowned the 2019 RVNA Spelling Bee Winner! There were many fans and supporters from the RA community in the audience waving their posters and rooting for Basil throughout the evening. RA’s Marcie Maguire was one of those fans and said, “Basil was a spelling machine and didn't even need to use his rockstar lifeline! The best part for me was hearing his boys and the other RA students cheering him on. A special night for Ridgefield and Ridgefield Academy.” Another RA supporter and colleague, Jessica Brooks noted that “Attending last night's RVNA's Spelling Bee to cheer on Basil, was so much fun! We were at the edge of our seats every time a new word was announced, but Basil was great and the cheering squad made up of RA students added to the excitement!” It has been rumored that Basil himself has been seeking redemption since the eighth grade when he was defeated in the Queens Borough Bee that cost him a shot at the New York City Championship. Basil said,”Participating in the 2019 RVNA Spelling Bee was so much fun! I’ve been looking for spelling bee redemption for 30 years after getting knocked out in the first round of a regional bee, and I just tried to make Ridgefield Academy proud. From my opening round word of redeem (all the contestants got easy warm-ups) to the final word of laureation, it was such a fun night. My favorite part of it – aside from the championship sash I get to wear for the next year – were the faculty members, students and parents there supporting me… and LOUDLY!” This victory not only made up for the past but supported a great cause and was a wonderfully fun evening for all!

Proceeds from this event support RVNA’s Nursing Education program that provides training and development for the RVNA nursing team. RVNA spends approximately $40,000 on education annually for its nurses, home health aides, and therapists. Last year, RVNA served more than 1,600 patients, making well over 50,000 home care visits in 28 Connecticut towns.