News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 5, 2018
Blue Hill homeschooler wins Maine State Spelling Bee
Carries on family tradition

Second time’s the charm

Colin Aponte, a Blue Hill home-schooled eighth grader, wins the Maine State Spelling Bee March 24 at the University of Southern Maine, finishing one spot higher than last year. He will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. May 27-31.

Photo courtesy of Louise Aponte

With 30 rounds of correctly spelled words behind him, Blue Hill home-schooled eighth grader Colin Aponte stepped up to the mike at the University of Southern Maine March 24 and spoke the nine letters that would send him to he Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.: c-r-e-s-c-e-n-d-o.

“Crescendo,” or a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music, is a word he’s encountered innumerable times before as a young musician who performed with renowned violinist Midori with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra in 2015. He was a 2017 Young Stars of Maine Prizewinner for violin.

“‘Crescendo’ is a very familiar musical term for a violinist,” his mother Louise Aponte noted afterwards.

Aponte, one of three spellers who tied for second place in the 2017 state bee, is carrying on a family tradition that began with his older brother, Brandon Aponte, a John Bapst senior who won the state bee in 2013 and then competed at the national level. And Colin may not be the last word in the family spelling champions: younger sister, fifth-grader Rebecca, placed second at the Hancock County Bee in February on her first time on the stage.

Colin followed through on his plan to “try and learn as many new words as I can” after earning the right to complete at the state bee.

He said it was a “huge relief” to win the state bee after several second place finishes at the county and, last year, the state level.

“This was his last chance as an eighth grader, and he has been looking forward to the experience of competing in the National Bee ever since he watched his brother Brandon,” Louise Aponte said.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will be held May 27 to May 29 in Washington D.C., with the final round televised on ESPN.