By Christopher Tobutt
Laila Small, aged 10, of Red Bay Primary School, won the big trophy and the big first prize in the 24th Annual Department of Education Services (DES) Primary Spelling Bee on Tuesday 23 November.
“I feel proud of myself. I worked really, really hard and I think my parents are really, really proud of me,” she said.
It was Clifton Hunter’s Alique-Benjamin Bennett’s turn to feel proud in the 38th Annual Lions Club Secondary Spelling Bee the following day.
“I feel pretty good because I participated five times, and this is my fifth time participating and I finally got a first,” he said.
The prizes in the junior spelling bee, presented by DES Director Mark Ray, included iPads for each of the first, second, and third place winners. Second place in the Junior spelling bee was Zavian Roman, of Creek & Spot Bay Primary School, and there was a tie for third place, with both Nalanie Palacios of Theoline L. McCoy Primary School and Danique Boyd of Edna M. Moyle each receiving prizes.
Second place in the Secondary Spelling Bee went to Jaedon Hanson of John Gray High School, after a long-fought battle with the first-place winner. He finally lost on the word “Psittacosis.” There was a tie for third place, with prizes (electronic tablets, and trophies provided by the Lions Club) awarded to Jade Robinson of St. Ignatius, and Aryan Champawat of Layman E. Scott Sr. High School.
For each of the two competitions, the rules were the same. Contestants were allowed to ask for a repeat of the word, its definition, its use in a sentence and its origin. If they got it wrong, they had to leave the stage, so after an hour or two, only a handful of students were left as the words got harder and harder.
In the Junior spelling bee, there were students from Calvary Baptist Christian Academy, Cayman Academy, Creek & Spot Bay Primary School, East End Primary School, Edna Moyle Primary School, Joanna Clarke Primary School, Montessori By the Sea, Red Bay Primary School, and Theoline McCoy. In the Secondary Spelling Bee, there were students from Calvary Baptist Christian Academy, Cayman Academy, Clifton Hunter High School, John Gray High School, Layman E. Scott Snr. High School, and St. Ignatius Catholic High School.
Gloria Bell, Acting Customer Service Manager DES, thanked everyone for making the spelling bee possible through all their hard work, including the teachers and coaches, parents and students for all their dedication, and all the Department of Education staff who had been so dedicated in organising it.
Mark Ray, Director, Department of Education Services, said to the students: “Enrichment activities such as the Spelling Bee are pretty important for us to maintain not just from the standpoint of being able to spell words, but there are also some critical thinking skills involved. So, the spelling bee doesn’t just serve as a tick box exercise for something that we’ve done, it also showcases the hard work that you’ve put in and that your teachers have put in, but, more importantly, it helps us to develop skills that are necessary for the rest of your educational journey and for transfer into your adult life.”