Shelby Veilleux, an eighth grader from Forest Hills Consolidated School in Somerset County, spells during the 2024 Maine State Spelling Bee at Bowdoin College on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

BRUNSWICK – With the same confidence he displayed in 13 previous rounds, Evan Trieu leaned toward the microphone and correctly spelled “aughts,” to win the Maine State Spelling Bee for the second consecutive year.

The eighth grader from Portland’s St. Brigid School didn’t stumble at any point during the two-hour event Saturday at Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College and was the final participant standing among 14 county finalists from across the state.

Huck Dube, an eighth grader from Spruce Mountain Middle School in Franklin County, spells during the 2024 Maine State Spelling Bee at Bowdoin College on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Among the words Trieu spelled along the way to victory were: “astonish,” “toastmaster,” “technician,” “obnebulate” and “hagiographer.”

“I was definitely a little nervous coming in, but I think I got a good deal of studying done and was well-prepared this year,” Trieu said afterward.

The 2024 spelling bee, hosted by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, featured two fifth grade students – including Julia Schweier from nearby Woodside Elementary School in Topsham – one sixth grader, five seventh graders and six participants from eighth grade.

Trieu will again represent Maine in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in late May.


Each participant survived the first two rounds on Saturday, but the third round saw three eliminated. Another was tripped up in round 4.

The remaining 10 spellers lasted the next four rounds without making any mistakes, before round nine knocked out Schweier (she misspelled “obstetrician”) and Shelby Veilleux, an eighth grader at Forest Hills Consolidated School in Jackman (she misspelled “alma mater”).

From there, things happened fast.

Round 10 was the final round for two more spellers – Jade Lui of Great Salt Bay in Damariscotta and Morgan Leeman of Center Drive School in Orrington – and Madden Brown of Camden-Rockport Middle School was eliminated by the seldom-heard word “lacustrine” in round 11, leaving behind a final five of all eighth graders.

Three more spellers were ousted in the next round: Huck Dube of Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay, Aashvi Acharya of Messalonskee Middle School in Oakland and Julia Bryant of Massabesic Middle School in East Waterboro.

That left only Trieu and Lydia Han of Greater Houlton Christian Academy, and the two-person showdown didn’t last long.


Han misspelled “brouhaha,” while Trieu correctly spelled “Sirius,” and then closed it out with “aughts.”

Evan Trieu, an eighth grader from St. Brigid School in Portland, moments after winning the 2024 Maine State Spelling Bee at Bowdoin College on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Asked if there were any words that gave him pause, Trieu said, “not really.” He’s been studying with the help of a phone app and also takes an online course every Sunday.

“They were all list words, so I think I was prepared for all of them,” he said.

Lily Jordan served as the head judge for the first time. Like Trieu, Jordan is a two-time former winner (in 2010 and 2011). Also serving as judges were: Brendan Doyle, a winner in 1983, and Jody Spear, who won as a seventh grader back in 1953.

Spear still competes in adult spelling bees.

“And I always win them,” she said.


Her advice to the participants was to keep valuing language.

“The world needs editors,” she said. “No one ever expressed to me that that could be a profession, and I just sort of stumbled into it. The language is disintegrating, and if someone is a good speller then they can be attentive to detail and have the kind of stickler attitude that will equip them.”

Trieu, meanwhile, will head to Cheverus High School in the fall as the state’s top speller, at the least, and he still has a chance to win the national bee.

A Mainer has won the national bee only once: 12-year-old Sarah Wilson of Gray in 1934.

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