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mvtimes spelling bee article

The Martha's Vineyard Times

Lily Lubin of Charter School wins Island spelling bee

By Janet Hefler
Published: March 26, 2009

At last week's 18th annual Island-wide Spelling Bee, Lily Lubin proved that spelling skill is not an "anachronism." Knowing how to spell that word won first place for the seventh grader from Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School.

Lily Lubin, Martha's Vineyard

Lily Lubin, Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School.
Photo by Ralph Stewart

Sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Times, the Spelling Bee took place on March 19, in the Performing Arts Center at the regional high school.

Lily and six other finalists were selected following competitions for students in grades four through eight. Spellers included home schooled students, as well as students from the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School and the five town elementary schools.

Runners-up in Thursday's Spelling Bee included Willow Wunsch, grade 6, Tisbury School; Russell Shapiro, grade 6, Oak Bluffs School; Franklin Pilcher of Edgartown, a home-schooled sixth-grader; Alice Keenan, grade 7, Edgartown School; Timmy Roberts, grade 6, West Tisbury School; and Jared Bardwell, grade 4, Chilmark School.

The spelling bee came down to a battle of words between Lily and Willow over several rounds. In the final minutes, Willow was in the lead until misspelling what would have been her championship word, "rendezvous."

That put Lily back in the running for another round. Willow, first up, missed her next word, "mozzarella," while Lily correctly spelled "zephyr," and then her championship word, "anachronism," to cinch first place.

In a phone call Monday, Lily said of her win, "I was more surprised than the audience." She credited her Charter School friends Anna Hughes, last year's Island spelling bee winner, and Wolfie McCormick-Goodheart for help and encouragement.

Lily and her guardians Doug and Amy Reece, who was her grade 5-6 teacher at the Charter School, live in Oak Bluffs. Lily and Ms. Reece studied hard, running through lists of words at home at night and on the way to school in the morning.

Vineyard school superintendent James Weiss and Times writer Janet Hefler were judges. Times copy editor Whit Griswold was the pronouncer. Jean Holenko of the Oak Bluffs School coordinated the Martha's Vineyard schools' separate contests and organized the Island-wide bee.

As Martha's Vineyard's spelling bee winner, Lily and a chaperone will enjoy a trip to Washington, D.C., for Bee Week from May 24-30. She will represent Martha's Vineyard at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 26-28.

The Martha's Vineyard Times underwrites all of the costs associated with the school spelling bees, including the week's trip to Washington, D.C. All of the contestants received gifts from The Martha's Vineyard Times, as well.

On Thursday, May 28, ESPN will air the semifinal rounds between 10 am to 1 pm. ABC will broadcast the championship finals in primetime from 8 to 10 pm.

This year's national competition will include 292 spellers, the largest number in its history.