Spencer Pogue wins Island spelling bee

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Spencer Pogue, a sixth-grader at the Edgartown School, spelled his way to success as the winner of the Martha’s Vineyard Schools Spelling Bee on Friday morning, March 14.

Spencer correctly spelled the word “polymer” in the 12th round of the 23rd annual Island Bee, which is sponsored by The Martha’s Vineyard Times and held at the regional high school’s Performing Arts Center.

Spencer and five other spellers from the five Island elementary schools and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School earned a place at the regional Spelling Bee, following competitions in their schools for students in grades four through eight.

The other Island spellers who competed were eighth-grader Keith Chatinover from the Charter School, fifth-grader Fynn Monahan from Chilmark, seventh-grader Makenzie Luce from Oak Bluffs, fifth-grader Chloe Combra from Tisbury, and sixth-grader Zephy Thompson from West Tisbury.

Spencer, Zephy, and Keith battled it out up until round 10, when Zephy was sidelined by the word “hibachi” and Keith by the word “knavery.” Spencer correctly spelled “yacht” as the lone speller in round 11 and clinched the victory with “polymer” as his championship word.

Among 42 words in 12 rounds, others that knocked contestants out of the running included diorama, errand, and orchard.

Jean Holenko of the Oak Bluffs School was the Bee coordinator. MV Times publisher Peter Oberfest was the pronouncer. Judges were James Weiss, superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools and Times reporter Janet Hefler.

When asked after the Bee if he went into the Island competition thinking he might win, Spencer told The Times, “Honestly, I was just happy that I was going to be in it.”

He said his parents, Steve and Kathy Pogue of Edgartown, and sisters Paige and Molly, helped him prepare by quizzing him with words from practice lists on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. Of the 12 words Spencer spelled correctly in Friday’s bee, he said the word “crochet” was the only one that gave him a moment of hesitation.

Sibling rivalry took on new meaning this year for Spencer and his sisters, who are triplets, as they competed against each other in the Edgartown School spelling competitions. Paige was runner-up to Spencer in their classroom spelling bee, and Molly was runner-up to Spencer in the school-wide bee.

As the Island Spelling Bee winner, Spencer will move on to compete in the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee. The event will be held during Bee Week, May 25–31, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., along the shores of the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. Semifinals and championship finals take place on May 29.

The Times’s Bee sponsorship includes underwriting the trip to the national Bee for the champion and a chaperone, as well as the cost of the school bees.

School bee coordinators were Pam Echlin, Charter School; Jackie Guzalak, Chilmark; Erin Simmons, Edgartown; Ms. Holenko, Oak Bluffs; Janet Stiller, Tisbury; and Peter Forrester, West Tisbury.