Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 14, 2019 and The Weekly Packet, February 14, 2019
Blue Hill home-schooler wins Hancock County Spelling Bee
Rebecca Aponte continues family tradition
In the trophy presentation, Bee Master Chandra Bisberg honors Rebecca Aponte of Blue Hill as winner and Mason Perkins of Penobscot as runner-up at the Hancock County Spelling Bee February 12 in Penobscot.
by Anne Berleant
What begins with ‘calculus’ and ends with ‘belay?’ The Hancock County Spelling Bee, held at Penobscot Community School February 12.
Twenty-four middle school students from 13 schools displayed their spelling chops in front of a gymnasium filled with families, friends and staff to see who would be the last speller standing. The winner would move on to compete next month at the Maine State Spelling Bee.
The last speller standing was Rebecca Aponte, a home-schooled sixth grader from Blue Hill, whose last name is familiar to anyone who follows local spelling bee news. Older brothers Brandon and Colin Aponte were both state spelling champions and competed at the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Rebecca said solid preparation helped her through the eight rounds of the bee.
“I was nervous about all of [the words] but because I studied, I felt pretty confident,” she said. She also had a little help from Brandon and Colin, now both students at John Bapst, in her preparations. “Colin gives me pretty hard words to trip me up.”
Rebecca navigated past gangrene, emaciated, metallurgy, excise, incorruptible, quesadilla, morgue and trawl before receiving the championship word, belay.
Penobscot’s Mason Perkins was runner up, after stumbling in the eighth round over ‘anchovy.’ The eighth grader had correctly spelled words like accompany, inertia, panic, hazard and postmortem before faltering at the end.
“I felt kind of confident but I was really nervous,” Perkins said. “This was the first time I got past the second round.”
Penobscot middle school teacher Chandra Bisberg served as bee master, while Union 93 Curriculum Coordinator Dawn McLaughlin and Grace Neal served as judges. Penobscot teacher Michele Charette coordinated the event, which brought students from as far as Eastbrook and as near as Brooksville, Blue Hill, Castine and Sedgwick to the Penobscot school’s stage.
The state bee is scheduled for March 23 at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, and until then, Rebecca plans on practicing spelling “as many words as I can.”