Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Sara-Beth McPherson wins 2015 Spelling Bee

Published:Thursday | February 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMRichard Mitchell

Sara-Beth McPherson, a 13-year-old student of Holy Childhood High in St Andrew is the 2015 winner of The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition.

Her win came after an hour-long clash with runner-up Jehu Bent.

Both exchanged 29 words before McPherson pulled ahead when Bent incorrectly spelt

V-A-W-A-R-D.

Sara-Beth then went on to win when she correctly spelt it and then R-U-R-I-T-A-N-I-A-N.

'Ruritanian' is defined as "having the characteristics of adventure, romance and intrigue, as in works of romantic fiction".

Sara-Beth, speaking with The Gleaner after her victory, said she was feeling very good about the win and confirmed she knew both words, which led her to winning the coveted title.

She said she studied the word 'vaward' just the night before. She also reviewed the winning word the morning of the finals.

"I feel very good knowing that I won after this very long time. [Ruritanian] was one of the words I reviewed this morning. I was very confident," the soft-spoken teenager said.

STICKING TOCOACH'S PLAN

When asked what preparation would be like for the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, DC, in May, the champion humbly replied: "I will just do what my coach says. That's it."

Although Sara-Beth is officially coached by the legendary Reverend Glen Archer, 17-year-old former champion Hanif Brown took over the reigns from Archer when the Spelling Bee coach fell seriously ill back in October 2014. Sara-Beth's win extends Archer's championship count to 26.

Although he was unsuccessful in winning the competition, Jehu said he has come to terms with his performance.

"I put out a lot. I work, I pray hard and that is the result. I cannot complain, cannot change what has happened," said the 14-year-old Kingston College student.

ANIMATEDSPELLER

Jehu's animated demeanour while on the podium drew various reactions from members of the audience.

Prior to the tense final encounter between the two-top finishers, 12 other students, each representing a parish, vied for a position in the finals, where only seven were chosen to move on.

The other five finalists were Manchester's Britney Allen from deCarteret College, St Elizabeth's Alliyah Deroux from Glen Stuart Primary, St Mary's Greig Campbell of St Mary High School, St Ann's Sowande Brown from Tomlinson Christian Academy, and Westmoreland's Jessica McKnight, who attends Unity Primary School.

Greig fell first in the finals, when he incorrectly spelt P-O-N-D-E-R-O-U-S. Sowande was soon stumped by T-E-R-I-Y-A-K-I and Alliyah could not manage W-A-L-L-O-W-E-D. The word R-E-N-E-G-E-S was incorrectly spelt by Jessica, and third-place position was copped by Britney, who was baffled by M-U-L-L-I-O-N.

Tajaun Gibbison, the 2014 Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee champion, was present yesterday to show his support. Tajaun placed eight in the Scripps National competition in the United States.