Bangor area spellers advance at National Spelling Bee

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (Gray DC) -- Two eighth graders from Maine stepped into the spotlight – literally – on stage at the National Spelling Bee Tuesday.

Colin Aponte of Blue Hill advanced out of Round Two by correctly spelling 'gervais' – meaning a soft, French cream cheese.

“It feels great. I’m excited to be here. It’s a great experience," said Colin.

It’s Colin’s first time at the national bee. He got the bug after watching his older brother compete five here years ago. But getting to this point hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve been competing in bees for several years. I have a lot of lists and books that I study and my mom quizzes me on," he explained.

“I’ve been studying words. I read as much as I can," said another Maine speller, Iann Leigh. "I make sure I know the pronunciations of the words and the definitions as well.”

Iann, who attends James F. Doughty School in Bangor, is also moving to the next round. He correctly spelled “Bugaku,” Japanese dance.

Iann has been spelling for the past two years.

“In sixth grade, we had a class spelling bee, and I won, and it was kind of a surprise," Iann explained. "The next year, I got to the regional, and this year, I won the regional.”

So far, their success in their school and regional bees seems to be paying off for both boys. They’ll spell again on stage, in front of a national TV audience, on Wednesday.