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Students pay tribute at The Reverend Glen Archer's funeral

Published:Monday | March 2, 2015 | 3:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Romell Newby, former Spelling Bee champion, is consoled by past vice-principal at Ardenne, Carol Walfall during the thanksgiving service for the life of The Reverend Glen Archer at the Ardenne High School auditorium in St Andrew yesterday.

Whenever Khadine Blake feels like giving up, she looks at the ring she got for being a member of Ardenne High's Schools' Challenge Quiz team in 2009 - a team coached by the Reverend Glen Archer.

Speaking during yesterday's thanksgiving service for Archer, held at Ardenne's St Andrew compound, she said though the journey was rough, her life was positively impacted by the experience.

"Rev Archer was very serious, but one thing was certain, and it is that he believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. And so six years later, whenever I get discouraged, I take a look at my quiz ring as a reminder that there is greatness in me," she declared.

Similarly, Hanif Brown, who won The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee Championship in 2011, and who successfully coached this year's champion Sara-Beth McPherson, said he was driven by Archer's meticulous teaching skills.

"People always say that many students mainly come to Ardenne because of Spelling Bee, and that statement resonates with me, because Reverend Archer and Spelling Bee were one of the main, if not the only, reasons why I wanted to come to Ardenne High School, and I have no regrets," he declared.

"Spelling Bee did not only teach me to learn words but the whole man was developed, and most importantly he taught us the importance of connecting with God, as our training always started and ended with prayer. He had no children of his own but we were all his children," Brown said.

In the meantime, Romell Newby, national Spelling Bee champion in 1999, in a tearful, yet strong tribute, urged policymakers and nation builders to give urgent health care in Jamaica.

"Before Rev Archer passed. He kept complaining of a headache that lingered for many days because he did not receive urgent attention from the doctors. I saw for myself that Jamaica's health care is in need of urgent attention because even though he got worse over time, I strongly believe that had the right resources been in place, he would have been alive today," Newby said.

"Whenever we were frolicking around as students, he would always say to us, 'Stop pussyfooting around' and so I say to the leaders of the country, stop pussyfooting with people's lives," he charged.

Archer, 61, died February 15 at the University Hospital of the West Indies where he had been admitted for more than a month.

The award-winning, internationally acclaimed spelling coach had been hospitalised since December 9 last year, suffering from chronic kidney failure.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com