‘Gridiron’ wins it for Island spelling bee

A sixth grader from the Island Charter School will move on to nationals.


Josephine Gautier, a sixth grader from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, won the 31st annual Martha’s Vineyard Schools Spelling Bee on March 15.

Josephine, all smiles on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center stage on Friday, was the last standing after nailing the word “gridiron.”

Josephine will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete against some of the best middle school spellers in the country.

The stiff competition lasted 12 rounds on Friday, and the PAC was jammed with parents, teachers, and fellow classmates, some holding signs supporting their peers. 

The bee began with simple words like “banana” and “barbie,” and the first several rounds resulted in no eliminations. However, as the rounds progressed, so did the difficulty. “Optimum” and “abashed” resulted in disqualifications. 

By Round 9, only two students remained: Jake Stanton, a fifth grader from Edgartown School, and Josephine. 

After a volley lasting two rounds, Josephine clinched it. 

“Oh my God, I can’t believe it,” Josephine told The Times after the big win. The sixth grader said that she was cramming for the bee all the way up until that morning. Her technique involved mock spelling bee sessions with her mom. Every word she’d spell wrong during practice, she’d mark and write down three times in order to study the correct spelling. “I studied every second I had,” she said.

“Her biggest strength was how systematic she was when studying,” Josephine’s English teacher Ben Hughes added.

Competing on Friday were the finalists from each Island middle school spelling bee: Aside from Josephine and Jake, also competing were eighth graders Thales Viana from West Tisbury School and Charlotte Cramer from Oak Bluffs School; seventh grader Rocco Baccelli from Tisbury School, and fifth grader Lorenzo Doyle from Chilmark School.

The Spelling Bee was sponsored by The MV Times. The newspaper funds the competition, as well as the trip to D.C. for the winner. News editor for The MV Times and pronouncer for Friday’s bee Sam Houghton reflected, “It was a great event, and an honor for us to be able to support the schools.”



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