Anna Hughes of Charter School wins Island spelling bee
Hearing the word "derelict" brought a smile to Anna Hughes's face Friday. Spelling it correctly made her champion of the 17th annual Martha's Vineyard Schools Spelling Bee, sponsored by The Martha's Vineyard Times and held at the high school's Performing Arts Center.
With Anna's victory comes the honor of representing the Vineyard at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., on May 29-30. Her parents, Chuck and Linda Hughes, will accompany her on the trip. Anna said this week she plans to study a lot more before the national competition.
An eighth-grader from Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, Anna faced off in competition against six other finalists - all boys. The competitors represented the winning spellers in grades 4-8 from Island schools, including the Charter School and the home-schooled community, determined through individual classroom and then school spelling bees held earlier this winter.
Anna's competition included Emerson Mahoney, grade 4, Chilmark School; Chris Pitt, grade 8, Edgartown School; Franklin Pilcher, age 11, home school; Tyler Shapiro, grade 7, Oak Bluffs School; Riley Donegan, grade 8, Tisbury School; and Ian Tripp, grade 8, West Tisbury School.
Jean Holenko, an Oak Bluffs School guidance counselor who coordinated the spelling bee program Island-wide, kicked off last week's bee with a short history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and its rules.
Times publisher Peter Oberfest served as the pronouncer. In his opening remarks, Mr. Oberfest said he and his wife, Barbara, as well as Times editor Doug Cabral and his wife, Molly, are happy to be sponsoring the spelling bee at a time when many newspapers are eliminating or diminishing support for it. "It is an opportunity for us to do something for the community that really pleases us," he said.
Judges included Mr. Cabral and superintendent of public schools James Weiss.
The hour-long spelling bee became a three-way battle after round six between Anna, Franklin, and Tyler, until the word "bobolink" knocked Tyler out of the running. Anna and Franklin squared off for another two rounds. Then Franklin missed the word "provenance," leaving Anna the opportunity to win if she spelled the next word correctly. Not one to be "derelict" in her duties, she finished her spelling with a flourish, raising her arms overhead in a victorious "V."
Anna also was a finalist in last year's Island-wide spelling bee, held at the Harbor View Hotel, competing with five girls and one boy. She said she enjoyed seeing some of the previous year's contestants from other schools again.
Her closest competitor, Franklin, is the son of William O'Gorman and Alison Pilcher. He enjoys reading, studying science, and learning about animals.
The Times underwrites all of the costs associated with the school spelling bees, including the week's trip to Washington, D.C., for the winner and a chaperone to attend the national competition. All of the contestants received gifts from The Times, as well.