11-y-o Sowande prevails in five-hour St Ann spelldown
Kerry-Ann Hepburn, Children's Own Coordinator
Ocho Rios, St Ann: Sixty-five students from 36 schools converged at the St John's Anglican Church Hall on Wednesday, October 1, to vie for championship honours for the parish of St Ann in what has been the biggest Bee so far, as well as the longest. The spelldown, which usually lasts about two hours, stretched into five hours, as the St Ann hopefuls brought their A game.
The first round saw a few spellers failing to advance as spellmistress Marlene Stephenson Dalley gave pronunciations, origins and sentences.
The top 10 proved to be the strongest of the evening as a number of rounds passed and they still stood strong. In the end, Tomlinson Christian Academy took champion boy and girl.
It was déjà vu for Sowande Brown, as he stood in the same place as last year, but this time with a different spellmate, Zoey-Ann Layne, battling for the championship title.
Out of the official Spelling Bee Book and on to unseen words, Sowande and Zoey-Ann stood for over an hour, going back and forth, neither willing to concede.
A total of 11 wining words passed between them before the competition was decided. With Zoey-Ann misspelling S-A-L-M-A-D-U-N-D-E, Sowande saw his chance and took it, when he correctly spelt the word and moved on to win the parish title with the word C-O-N-G-R-U-E-N-C-E.
Thunderous applause and congratulations came from the audience for both the parish champion and the champion girl.
Meleithia Lawrence, coach of both top spellers, beamed with pride.
"It was a good competition," she said. "To go into unseen words and be there for so long, I can tell that they were well prepared for this."
When asked about his win, 11-year-old Sowande said it was a hard fight to beat his teammate, but was glad he won.
"I feel very good. I am so elated," said Sowande, who finished second in last year's parish Bee.
Second-place Zoey-Ann, who was competing for the first time, said she didn't expect to be the champion girl.
"I expected to come in third," she explained. "All the other spellers have done it before and might not have been as nervous."
Best of the Bee
1. Sowande Brown, Tomlinson Christian Academy
2. Zoey-Ann Layne, Tomlinson Christian Academy
3. Stephen Hinds, Servite Primary
4. Kimberley Hinds, Servite Primary
5. Ozhon Robinson, Brown's Town Primary
Top Boy: Sowande Brown
Top Girl: Zoey-Ann Layne
Winning Word: C-O-N-G-R-U-E-N-C-E