Early earns 2nd in state bee

MIDDLEBURY — When it comes time for you to stand on a stage in front of a large audience under bright lights and spell words on demand, nine-year-old Alice Early of Middlebury has some advice.
“Keep calm and try to remember,” the St. Mary’s School fourth-grader told an interlocutor last Friday. “If it’s a tough word, sound it out, think of it and take a stab.”
That’s what Early did at the Vermont Scripps Spelling Bee Championship at St. Michael’s College this past Thursday, and it served her well. She outlasted 36 other elementary and middle school students to compete in a 20-round spelldown with Lucinda Storz, a sixth-grader from Kirby. In the end, Early fell on the word “roodebok” (she was on track until she substituted an “a” for the third “o” — props to any reader who could spell the word correctly without the aid of a dictionary) and claimed second place in the state competition. Storz correctly spelled “ipecac” to win.
At 43 rounds of spelling, it was said to be the longest Vermont state bee in history.
“Normally I’m not big on competition, but when it comes to spelling I’m all for it,” said Early, who placed 14th at the state bee last year.
Another Middlebury girl was right there on stage with Early for much of the completion. Eleven-year-old Chloe Clark, a Mary Hogan Elementary School sixth-grader, earned fourth place in the competition. She went out on the 14th rounds when she misspelled “lederhosen” (who knew that the second letter wasn’t “a”?).
Both girls had to first win competitions at their respective schools before advancing to the state bee.
After Clark won the Mary Hogan bee, she logged countless hours studying the thousands of words on the list that Scripps provides to judges for the competition. She was coached by her dad, Gregor Clark, who also coached Chloe’s sister, Meigan, to a state spelling title four years ago.
Early practiced for the state bee on her own and with help from Grace Weber. The Weybridge resident has volunteered at St. Mary’s for around a decade, helping youngsters to learn and prep for school and state bees. Early also practiced the spelling lists with her parents, Joe and Angela, in time she carved out around her regular activities, including piano practice, play rehearsal and homework.
In the small world category, this year’s state champion, Lucinda Storz, is the sister of Walker Storz, who won the bee in 2008 but lost in a long spelldown with Weber’s daughter Lucy when Lucy won her second state spelling title in 2007. Also, Lucinda and Walker are siblings of Samantha Storz, who was second to Meigan Clark in a 31-round nail biter in 2011. In the what it’s worth department, Chloe Clark’s middle name is Lucinda. 
Joe Early was, not surprisingly, very proud of his daughter.
“Alice loves to read. In fact, she has re-read so many books, some of the hardcovers spines in her books have broken,” he said on Friday. “Her strong spelling stems from her joy of reading.”
Alice, who is described by St. Mary’s Principal Judy Adams as modest, said she surpassed her expectations for herself. She said she devoted more time to preparing for this year’s state bee than she did last year. In 2014 she didn’t get through the entire list of words, but this year she went through it three times before the March 19 competition.
While happy with this year’s state spelling bee, she doesn’t think she’s done with the completion.
“I’ll try it next year,” she said.

Share this story:

More News

Bernard D. Kimball, 76, of Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Bernard D. Kimball, 76, passed away in Bennington Hospital on Jan. 10, 2023. … (read more)

News Uncategorized

Fresh Air Fund youths returning to county

The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)

Obituaries Uncategorized

Mark A. Nelson of Bristol

BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)

Share this story: