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Mary Harrington is the Island spelling champ
Mary Harrington, an eighth grader at the West Tisbury School, will represent the Vineyard at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. in May. Mary's victory in the 16th annual Martha's Vineyard Schools Spelling Bee, sponsored by The Martha's Vineyard Times, was finally assured after 24 grueling rounds, including first a tense three-way contest and then a long and dramatic one-on-one with the second-place speller, home-schooled Reid Yennie - a struggle in which it appeared for a while that neither would succumb.
Mary Harrington is the best speller. Photos by Ralph Stewart
The crowd had turned quickly silent as bee coordinator Jean Holenko, an Oak Bluffs School guidance counselor, introduced the spellers. The competitors were determined through individual classroom and then school bees earlier this winter. The competition includes students in grades four through eight.
"I think we're going to have a lot of fun," said Mr. Oberfest as the students waited nervously.
Home schooler Reid Yennie was runner-up, after a long, tough one-on-one against winner Mary Harrington.
"This event would not be possible without the support of a local newspaper," Ms. Holenko added, explaining that The Times underwrites all of the costs associated with the bees, including the week's trip to Washington D.C. for the winner and family for the national competition.
Yesterday's contest began with Edgartown School's Vivian Ewing spelling the word "safari." Emma Berryman-Moore of Oak Bluffs confidently followed with "gristle," Anna Hughes spelled "idiom." "Paddock," "retrospective," "sequin," went smoothly but "dissect" stumped one speller, and the number was six. "Diorama" quickly eliminated another student, "stethoscope" a third.
Island Bee contestants included, left to right, champion Mary Harrington, a West Tisbury eighth grader ;Helen Driesen, a Chilmark fourth grader; Reid Yennie, home schooled; Anna Hughes, grade seven, Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School; Emma Berryman-Moore, grade five, Oak Bluffs School. Vivian Ewing, an Edgartown School eighth grader, is at the mike. Not pictured, Noelle Nelson, a Tisbury School seventh grader.
It took only three rounds for a quartet of solidly proficient spellers to emerge. Vivian Ewing, and eighth grader Anna Hughes, a Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School seventh grader, 11-year old Reid Yennie, and Mary Harrington appeared relaxed and composed as they stepped to the microphone, spelling confidently, seldom hesitating, asking for clarification when needed. The words got longer - "antibiotic...chronology...conjecture..." When Mr. Oberfest intoned the word "implement" Anna Hughes, began spelling at once before he had a chance to give the definition.
"Wait a second," he said gently with a smile, bringing chuckles from the audience and contestants for a brief moment of relief.
Unaffected by the pressure, Anna Hughes of the Charter School.
Each of the seven spellers accepted bags of gifts from The Times and savings bonds from the Chamber of Commerce, $100 for the first prize winner, $50 for all the other competitors.