January 23, 2019
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Bangor student to compete in national spelling bee

Contributed photo | BDN
Contributed photo | BDN
Iann Leigh (right), 14, right, will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee later this spring in Washington, D.C. Leigh is a student at the James. F. Doughty School in Bangor.

A Bangor middle school student will compete in the national spelling bee later this spring after correctly spelling the word “braggadocio” in a local competition.

Iann Leigh, an eighth-grade student at James F. Doughty School, correctly spelled the winning word — a noun that describes a person who boasts or brags — on Saturday for the win at the Penobscot County Spelling Bee, hosted at Husson University. Thirty-five students participated in the annual competition, which lasted four hours.

Leigh, 14, will spend a week in Washington, D.C. at the end of May to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Leigh and the winner of the Maine State Spelling Bee on March 24 at the University of Southern Maine will be the only two competitors from Maine.

“I’m excited that I won, and I’m excited I’m going,” Leigh said. “I really don’t want to get out. I hope I win.”

Leigh, an avid drummer whose favorite book is “American Gods,” by Neil Gaiman, placed second in the county competition last year. A Doughty School student hasn’t competed in the national bee since 1998, Principal Ed Hackett said.

For the local competition, students are given a long list of words to memorize. At the national level, competitors are urged to memorize the complete unabridged dictionary, which Leigh said he will try to do. He also plans to read as many books as possible in the meantime and study word origins, he said.

Leigh plans to take his parents to the national bee, where he will compete alongside nearly 300 students. The winner receives $40,000, a $2,500 savings bond and a complete Merriam-Webster reference library, $400 of reference books from Encyclopedia Britannica. The winner will also appear receive a trip to Hollywood and New York City to appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

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