Connors crowned Lincoln Spelling Bee champ

Connors crowned Lincoln Spelling Bee champ

Teachers, administrators, friends and parents gather at Lincoln Middle School on Tuesday to watch students in grades 4 through 8 compete in the Lincoln Public School District Spelling Bee. In center is Cristian Vickers, a 4th-grader at Central Elementary. (Breeze photos by Charles Lawrence)

LINCOLN – In his fifth appearance at the Lincoln Spelling Bee, 8th-grader Matthew Connors won Tuesday night’s competition after nailing the spelling of the word “anchovy.”

Connors and runner-up Joseph Fucci, a 7th-grader, exchanged high-fives, their spirits high despite the morbid theme of the final round. Both contestants incorrectly spelled the word “postmortem” before Connors correctly spelled “morgue” to move on to the championship word.

“We’re killin’ it!” joked pronouncer Lianne Denham, dean of students at Lincoln Middle School where the bee was held.

Connors said he was excited to win on his fifth try.

“It feels really good,” he said. “It’s been a long time.”

Twenty students started the competition, which lasted eleven rounds. Round one ended and round two began with two students misspelling “hundredth” before Lonsdale Elementary 4th-grader Ethan Carter Abreu got it right. The silent ‘g’ in “gnat” also caused some confusion that round, producing spellings such as “net” and “anat.”

A challenge was made on the pronunciation of the word “loam” after it was mistaken for “loom” by three students, who spelled it “lume,” “lum” and “loom,” which prompted red cards from the judges to the surprise of the audience. All three were brought back for another chance. “I blame Rhode Island,” Denham joked of her accent.

During round five, three students were eliminated by the word “sultan,” which was ultimately spelled correctly by Northern Lincoln Elementary School 5th-grader Jake Famiglietti. The next word, “bevel,” knocked out two more students before 7th-grader David Silvestri nailed it.

The word “praline” tripped up two more students leading into the eighth round of the bee, with Fucci the one to get it right. When two more students misspelled “incorruptible,” the competition was down to three.

Akoda Harrop, an 8th-grader who correctly spelled the words “alderman,” “stucco,” “crochet” and “albatross” throughout the evening, fell in the ninth round when she dropped the first “a” in “quesadilla.” Connors correctly spelled “vibrato” to move on to the final round, facing off with Fucci who spelled the word “hazard.”

Connors will move on to the statewide spelling bee, hosted by The Valley Breeze, in March. Asked for his thoughts on the big win, he said “it feels really good … it’s been a long time!”

The judges for the competition were Central Elementary School principal Patricia Gablinske, Northern Principal Alec Ciminello and Lincoln Middle School Assistant Principal John McNeil.

The welcome address was provided by Supt. Larry Filippelli, with student introductions led by Northern Assistant Principal Jeffrey Sposato, and challenges directed by Saylesville Elementary Principal Reza Sarkarati. Lonsdale Principal Melissa Goho coordinated the bee and read the rules to the audience.

There was some question this week about whether the final round was done correctly. The Breeze will provide a follow-up next week.

The judges hold up green cards indicating Matthew Connors, an 8th-grader at Lincoln Middle School, has won the Spelling Bee by successfully spelling the word “anchovy.” Next to him is second place winner, Lincoln Middle School 7th-grader Joseph Fucci.
Joseph Fucci, a 7th-grader at Lincoln Middle School, takes a turn at the microphone, eventually going on to win second place in the competition.
Judges hold up green cards, above, to indicate a student has correctly spelled a word. From left are John McNeil, assistant principal at Lincoln Middle School; Alex Ciminello, principal of Northern Lincoln Elementary and Patricia Gablinske, principal of Central Elementary School.
Eliza Gobin, a 4th-grader at Saylesville Elementary, left, is asked to spell the word “sultan.”