East Blue Hill girl wins second state spelling bee

Posted March 31, 2009, at 8:36 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:45 a.m.

BLUE HILL, Maine — The second time is also the charm for Imogen Page of East Blue Hill.

For the second year in a row, the 14-year-old eighth-grader at Blue Hill Consolidated School has won the statewide spelling bee. Page was named state champion at the competition held in Lewiston on Saturday.

Page said she was “very excited” about her victory and is looking forward to representing the state again in Washington, D.C.

“Last year, I dreamed of making the state bee,” Page said. “At every stage of competition, I was just so happy to be there. This year, I knew the system; I knew what it took.”

Thirteen spellers participated in the event, which took place at Trinity Catholic School in Lewiston. Page said the state bee seemed smaller this year.

“Not everyone sent spellers this year,” she said. “It felt quicker this year. I don’t know if it was, but it seemed as if it was.”

Page won in eight rounds, spelling words such as “gristle,” “prodigal,” “necessary” and “virtuoso.” She said she prepared for the competition by studying the provided list of words from the bee organizers. She also has a regular routine where she works with her coach, Veronica Young, a neighbor and friend.

“We go over the list of words, and we also work on language patterns and how to ask questions,” she said.

The victory at the state bee was just one part of a very busy day for Page. On Saturday morning, Page, who plays tenor sax and clarinet, participated in the State Jazz Festival — “which we won” — held in Newport, and that evening she was in Portland taking part in the traveling “Spelling Bee” musical along with Bob Crowley of TV’s “Survivor” fame.

Her victory in the state bee qualifies her to travel to Washington, D.C., in May for the National Spelling Bee. Last year, she was eliminated in the third round.

While spelling is a big part of the “National,” Page said, she is looking forward to the “other stuff.” During the six days of last year’s competition, participants were taken on trips around the D.C. area. The week also provides time for the spellers to get to know each other.

“Some of my friends from last year are going back again,” she said. “It’s exciting. I’m going to get to see them.”

Page said she has not started studying for the National Bee yet, but noted that the list of words is longer and the words are harder.

Although Page won in the eighth round, the battle for second and third place went on for 13 more rounds. Sixth-grader Lily Koffman of Orono finally bested eighth-grader Rachel Borch of Hope. Koffman earned the title of runner-up by spelling “sukiyaki” before Borch stumbled on her final word, “homogeneous.”

Norm Karkos of WMTW-TV, Channel 8, served as the bee master. The judges were Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert; Judy Meyer, the daytime managing editor of the Lewiston Sun Journal; and Donna Steckino, chief executive officer at Community Credit Union.

The National Spelling Bee, which is sponsored by the E.W. Scripps Co., will take place on May 24-30.

Rebekah Metzler of the Lewiston Sun Journal contributed to this report.

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