Jessica McKnight takes Westmoreland trophy
"All my hard work has finally paid off," smiled Jessica McKnight after taking the title of parish champion for Westmorland. The 11-year-old said it was really hard preparing for the competition. "I had to be studying all the time, even when I wanted to watch TV, even when I was eating."
Coach Claudia Allforrester said that though they had many interruptions, she was elated with the results. "It shows that sticking to the task and continuing to work at it can pay off, and I'm really grateful for what happened today."
The coach also had a lot of praise for Jessica's parents as they helped to coach her. "Her mother helped to coach her in the beginning, and in the last part, her dad really took up the mantle."
"I just want to give it all to the Lord," said John McKnight. "After they finished the book and she got the first word, I was totally in the dark, I didn't know the second letter. When she spelt the word correctly, I knew it was really the Lord speaking through her, and I just have to give thanks for all of that."
McKnight also gave credit to a programme Jessica was enrolled in over the summer, which he said not only helped her, but also her support team.
Her mother, Opal McKnight, is happy about the win as she said that winning the bee wasn't her main focus with Jessica. "I really didn't think about spelling bee initially. I just wanted to help with her vocabulary, but when she won the spell down at her school last year, her teacher suggested she enter, and I am so happy she won."
As for nationals, Jessica's coach and parents aim to work much harder to ensure that she is the one to come out on top. But while they have identified the strategy Jessica has a message for her contenders: "Good luck to all the parish champions and may the best person win."
The final spell down of the 56th Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee saw 31 students at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall last Friday.
Best of the BEE
1. Jessica McKnight, Unity Primary
2. Makai Lewis, New Horizon Prep
3. Tomoya Comrie, New Horizon Prep
4. Nickada Noble, Broughton Primary
5. Natalia Peynado, Mt Airy All-Age
Top Boy: Makai Lewis, New Horizon Prep
Top Girl: Jessica McKnight, Unity Primary