Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Sara-Beth's victory after chikungunya

Published:Monday | September 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Sara-Beth McPherson, 2014 Spelling Bee winner for St Andrew, with her championship trophy. Ian Allen/Photographer

Kerry-Ann Hepburn, Children's Own Coordinator

"I AM really grateful to God for what happened today," said Andrea McPherson, mother of Sara-Beth McPherson, who is The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee parish champion for St Andrew.

After battling the chikungunya virus, it was a true testament to Sara-Beth's fighting spirit that won her the parish title. "She has had a lot of challenges over the three years and especially this (last) week with the joint pains and fever. But I am elated! Through all of that, she has been resilient and trusted God," said McPherson.

This win is three years in the making. Sara-Beth's foundation in spelling started at the Praise Tabernacle Preparatory School, where she was coached by the Reverend Glen Archer. Now a second-form student at the Holy Childhood High School, and still coached by Archer, the 12-year-old is loving the feeling of being champion.

"I feel very good. I thank God and my coach for helping me. [Also] my parents and my teachers at school," said Sara-Beth.

Archer is no stranger to having a champion in St Andrew, but without his defending champion, the parish title still goes to him as top coach. "I feel very good because I thought I'd come away empty handed. But I said, 'Lord, I've done my work and I can't do anymore'."

As it relates to nationals, Archer isn't giving anything away but insists that Sara-Beth has a strong chance.

"Sara is a good girl, humble, and very intelligent. She absorbs the words very well. We should have a good one come nationals."

Top Five

1. Sara-Beth McPherson, Holy Childhood High

2. Joanna Turner, Campion College

3. Javen Davis, Morris Knibb Prep

4. Dane Jones, Ardenne High

5. Janelle Howitt, Immaculate Conception High

Top Boy

Javen Davis, Morris Knibb Preparatory School

Top Girl

Sara-Beth McPherson, Holy Childhood High School

Winning word:


Spelling Bee schedule

Week one of the 56th Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition is done and it's on to the next. See where we're off to this week.


St Thomas

2 p.m.-5 p.m.

Morant Bay Parish Church



10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Hotel Tim Bamboo


St Mary

9 a.m. to noon

Emmanuel Baptist Church

St Ann

3 p.m.-5 p.m.

St John's Anglican



9 a.m. to noon

William Knibb Church

St James

3 p.m.-5 p.m.

The Hollis Peter Lynch Building



9 a.m. to noon

Lucea Parish Church


3 p.m.-5 p.m.

Sean Lavery Faith Hall