FORT WORTH — "The first word is, 'ascetic.' Ascetic."
Jane Parris, a 77-year-old retired teacher, repeats the word and spells it for the judge. They're both residents at The Stayton at Museum Way, a new senior-living community in west Fort Worth.
Parris spells the words "papyrus" and "millennium," occasionally consulting with two helpers, who are allowed to whisper advice to her.
They call themselves "Team Smartypants." They learned to spell long before computers did the work with spell check.
This was their final practice session for the Tarrant Literacy Coalition spelling bee on Tuesday night. They said there's pride on the line as they go up against about 20 other, younger, teams.
"They got more guts than I got," laughed Carole Kelly.
They don't always get it right, but the seniors think their years give them an edge. Plus, they all have advanced degrees, and most of them are retired educators.
"We've been around a long time," Parris said. "We've heard a lot of words."