Paige Hanks adjusted her glasses, seized the microphone and carefully articulated the word, “Anxiety. A-n-x-i-e-t-y. Anxiety.” With a round of cheers from the McKinney ISD contingent and a triumphant pose from Hanks, the MISD Word Nerds’ first test was out of the way.

The MEF Spelling Bee, a contest that owes more to game show fun than traditional spelling bee pomp, is an annual battle of wits to raise money for McKinney Education Foundation scholarships. This year, the event held at Eldorado Country Club on February 21, brought in $22,000, and three groups with ties to McKinney ISD were among the field of 13 local 3-person teams:

The McKinney ISD Word Nerds:

•  Paige Hanks, Lawson Early Childhood School Principal

•  Dr. Logan Faris, McKinney High School Principal

•  Deborah Sanchez, Walker Elementary School Principal

Collin College Rotaract Vampires:

•  Anmol Motikar

•  Trang Nguyen

•  Jackson Oliver, Glen Oaks Elementary School 5th grade student

Tomes Auto Group:

•  Melanie Corcoran, Scott Johnson Middle School 8th grade ELAR teacher

•  Josh Nguyen, Scott Johnson Middle School 8th grade student

•  Zack Phillips, McKinney North High School 10th grade student


Lawson Early Childhood School Principal Paige Hanks of the MISD Word Nerds


After Hanks’ successful opening round response for the MISD Word Nerds, Scott Johnson Middle School 8th grader Josh Nguyen cruised through “influenza” for the Tomes Auto Group Team, and Glen Oaks Elementary School 5th grader Jackson Oliver successfully navigated his Vampire team past “forensics” -- keeping all three MISD groups in the thick of it.

“G-r-e-g-a-r-i-o-u-s.” “M-e-d-i-o-c-r-e.” “S-a-r-t-o-r-i-a-l.” “J-e-r-e-m-i-a-d.” “E-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-t-i-a-l.”

As the difficulty increased with each round, competitors began pulling out “mulligans” to wave off tricky words or to pass them to opposing teams, and some began to falter. “Transience” and “miasma” eliminated two teams.

And then after several well-fought rounds, the Tomes Auto Group team missed on “precipitate.”

The Collin College Rotaract Vampires pressed on to the top four, but stumbled on “venerable” leaving the Word Nerds to represent MISD in the final three.

Deborah Sanchez accurately spelled “excoriate” on the first go around, but their opponents were successful as well. The next word: “revelatory.” Sanchez conferred with her MISD team mates, then adjusted her glasses and carefully articulated the word, “Revelatory...”


The final word from the MISD Word Nerds, from left, Deborah Sanchez, Paige Hanks and Dr. Logan Faris.

But, it was not to be. An “e” instead of an “a,” and the Word Nerds were done.

In the end, the Torchmark Word Nerds outlasted Team A-W-E-S-O-M-E by successfully spelling “Czechoslovakian” and took home the title of 2013 MEF Spelling Bee Champion. McKinney ISD received the 2013 MEF Spelling Bee Spirit Award.

For Hanks, the event was a fun way to accomplish something important.

“I love participating in the MEF Spelling Bee!” she said.

“Raising money for scholarships for students in our district is a high priority, as we believe all students should have the opportunity to attend college. The Spelling Bee is a fun and engaging way to raise funds and engage the entire community in this cause. Our MISD came out in a big way to support us with fundraising and great spirit!”

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Specialist, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,000 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, one alternative school and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at