Marshall Rotary Club spelling bee team gets some practice in at the recent Rotary club meeting. Team members are from left Robert Coleman, Wyndi Veigel and Jordan Shaw. Accompanying the team is emcee Brad Howlett.

The Marshall Rotary Club recently learned how valuable the Marshall-Harrison County Literacy Council is to citizens in the community.

During the Thursday, Sept. 10 meeting, Marshall-Harrison County Literacy Council Executive Director Karen Bickerdike, spoke to the club about what the council had been up to during the pandemic and how their new location benefited the organization.

“We were the best kept secret in Harrison County and we wanted to change that,” Bickerdike said. The new location, located at 114 E. Grand Avenue, allows a more visible storefront and for people to simply stop by.

Prior to the pandemic, the council had 12 to 14 parents enrolled in their English as a Second Language class and were doing better than they had in years, Bickerdike said.

“We hit the wall in March,” she said, regarding the shutdown due to the pandemic. The council was shutdown for almost 100 days and then had to determine the best way to reopen distance learning style using WiFi in their parking lot, laptops and Zoom.

“They simply were not engaging with distance learning,” she said. This is for a variety of reasons including a language barrier and having more people than normal at home.

However, the council recently resumed in person classes with limited seating on Saturdays with five students and one teacher.

They do plan to continue incorporating distance learning so parents will be able to help their students.

Over the past year, they have served 54 individuals with ESL, citizenship tutoring, GED prep and adult literacy.

Bickerdike also shared several startling statistics about how literacy affects things in the United States.

  • Low literacy cost the U.S. $225 billion in unemployment
  • 43 percent of adults with the lowest level of literacy live in poverty
  • 1 in 6 adults drop out of high school

“We want to be known as a resource for this community,” she said. To reach the literacy council call 903-935-0962.

In Rotary Club business, Hannah Luke was elected as President-Elect for the club to serve as president next year.

During the club’s Thursday, Sept. 17 meeting, the club’s spelling bee team comprised of Wyndi Veigel, Jordan Shaw and Robert Coleman got a little practice in for the upcoming Marshall-Harrison County Literacy Council Virtual Spelling Bee.

Though the practice round proved rough for the team members, everyone had a good time getting cheered on by their fellow Rotarians. Everyone learned a bit about words including the fact that ‘disease’ is a difficult word for some and ‘liquefy’ has an ‘e’ in the middle.

The practice paid off for the team as they were named as the second place team in the official spelling bee held Friday, Sept. 18. They were defeated by the ETBU team.

As a result of the pandemic, the Marshall Rotary Club is currently meeting at noon every Thursday at Jose Tequila’s.