News Feature

Eastbrook
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 13, 2014
Brooklin brothers sweep county bee - VIDEO
Top student spellers compete for state title

Hancock County middle school spelling bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook

On February 10 at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook, Brandon Aponte, a 13-year-old Brooklin homeschooler, wins the Hancock County Spelling Bee with “dreidel.” Aponte was the winner of the 2013 county and state bees and competed at the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Thirty-one ace spellers converged at Cave Hill School on February 10 to try to escape elimination and take home top honors.

The winner, 13-year-old Brandon Aponte, from the Downeast Homeschool Co-op, will try to repeat his 2013 win at the state bee on March 22 at the Univeristy of Southern Maine at Portland. If he succeeds, Brandon will travel to Washington, D.C., for the second year running, to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 25 to May 31.

Brandon has come a long way since when he was a fifth-grader, his mother said moments after he correctly spelled “dreidel” to win the county bee. “He spelled ‘celebrate’ with an ‘s’ and I thought we didn’t have a speller,” Louise Aponte said.

Thirty-one top spellers compete at the Hancock County Spelling Bee at the Cave Hill School in Eastbrook, Maine. The champion Brandon Aponte, an homeschooled eighth grader, will compete at the state bee on March 22 for a repeat chance to take the stage at the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on May 25. Video by Anne Berleant

The Apontes have more than one great speller in the family. Younger brother Colin, a fifth-grade homeschooler competing in his first bee, went head-to-head with Brandon for several rounds after Cameron Stewart, a Blue Hill Consolidated School sixth-grader, misspelled “alcohol” to be eliminated in the ninth round.

From the opening word of “bric-a-brac,” students traipsed up to the microphone at the front of the stage. “May I have the definition? May I have the language of origin? Can you use it in a sentence?” “Can you repeat the word?” were the only questions they could ask of bee master Kathy McGlinchey. It is notable that of all participants, it was Brandon and Colin Aponte who most took advantage of those rules.

More than half of the spellers fell in the first round and by the third round, only eight were left. Round five saw the Apontes and Stewart left on the stage, correctly spelling words like “follicle,” “aphasia” and “hoi polloi.”

The word Colin misspelled in the 13th round was regoneador.

Its definition? The name given to a bullfighter who fights the bull on horseback.

“It was on the [Scripp’s word] list,” said Brandon.

Second-place winner Colin Aponte, champion Brandon Aponte and judge Jim Newett

From left, second-place winner Colin Aponte, champion Brandon Aponte and judge Jim Newett, Ellsworth Middle School principal, after the Hancock County Spelling Bee at the Cave Hill School in Eastbrook on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Bay School’s Fiona Tucker

Bay School’s Fiona Tucker at the Hancock County Spelling Bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Brooksville Elementary School’s John Bakeman

Brooksville Elementary School’s John Bakeman at the Hancock County Spelling Bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Sedgwick Elementary School’s Seska Whelan

Sedgwick Elementary School’s Seska Whelan at the Hancock County Spelling Bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Blue Hill Consolidated School’s Erika Hipsky

Blue Hill Consolidated School’s Erika Hipsky at the Hancock County Spelling Bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Cameron Stewart at the spelling bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook

Cameron Stewart, a Blue Hill Consolidated School sixth grader, came in third place at the Hancock County spelling bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook held on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Colin Aponte at a spelling bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook

“May I have the language of origin?” Colin Aponte perseveres through 13 rounds at the Hancock County Spelling Bee before falling to his brother, winner Brandon Aponte. The bee was held at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook on February 10.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Hancock County middle school spelling bee at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook

On February 10 at Cave Hill School in Eastbrook, Brandon Aponte, a 13-year-old Brooklin homeschooler, wins the Hancock County Spelling Bee with “dreidel.” Aponte was the winner of the 2013 county and state bees and competed at the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Anne Berleant